Hirshhorn Plaza

Tuesday, September 2, 2003

“Brushstroke,” Measuring 32 Feet Tall and 20 Feet Wide, to be Installed on the Museum Plaza Facing the National Mall

Ned Rifkin, director of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, today announced that the museum will install a monumental outdoor sculpture by the late American Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein. The sculpture, “Brushstroke,” a 32-foot-high–by-20-foot-wide rendition of a dynamic giant brushstroke of paint, marks a significant addition to the museum’s pre-eminent collection of contemporary art. The sculpture will take its permanent place on the Hirshhorn Plaza the week of Sept. 16.

“As the Hirshhorn begins the countdown to its 30th anniversary next year, we are very excited to bring this bold celebration of painting and sculpture by one of the 20th century’s most important artists to the National Mall,” said museum director Ned Rifkin. “This dramatic addition to the Hirshhorn grounds will link the Sculpture Garden to the museum’s Plaza, and is sure to become an icon for visitors to our nation’s capital.”

The Hirshhorn’s towering black-and-off-white sculpture, which was fabricated in 2003 by Amaral Custom Fabrications Inc. in Massachusetts under the supervision of the Lichtenstein estate, is made from painted aluminum.

“Brushstroke,” acquired through the museum’s Joseph H. Hirshhorn Purchase Fund, joins more than 60 other sculptural works installed in the Hirshhorn’s Sculpture Garden and on the Plaza. These works and some 350 other pieces of international modern and contemporary art from the museum’s collection are currently the focus of “Gyroscope,” an innovative museum-wide presentation of the Hirshhorn’s holdings on view in its entirety through Jan. 4, 2004.

The museum will host a public ribbon-cutting ceremony and day of free cultural and family events centered around “Brushstroke” and “Gyroscope” beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 25. That afternoon, the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange will premiere a site-specific improvisational dance inspired by “Gyroscope” (2:30 p.m.), and Jack Cowart, executive director of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, will discuss the artist, and his work and its place in the Hirshhorn collection (4 p.m.). Families can also enjoy comic-strip workshops, music and refreshments from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The model for “Brushstroke” was completed in 1996. The artist attended to every detail of its future realization before his death, making it one of the last examples of Lichtenstein’s ongoing engagement with the brushstroke motif. As early as the mid-1960s, Lichtenstein (1923-1997) featured brushstrokes in both paintings and sculpture, isolating the spontaneous gesture of painters—like Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline from the preceding Abstract Expressionist generation—as a stylized Pop symbol. A full-size proof of the work was temporarily on view at Seagram’s Plaza in New York City in 2000.

Lichtenstein, who emerged with Robert Indiana, James Rosenquist, Andy Warhol and others in the early 1960s, contributed to the development of American Pop art with his paintings of comic-book action and melodramatic scenes. Using his characteristic combination of primary colors and enlarged dots of color (used in commercial half-tone printing processes), Lichtenstein also took the history of art as his subject, referring to the works of Monet, Picasso and other renowned artists in his paintings.

The artist began creating large-scale sculptures of painted aluminum in the 1980s. Other monumental brushstroke sculptures can be found in Paris; Tokyo; Singapore; Columbus, Ohio; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and several locations in New York.

Lichtenstein is further represented in the Hirshhorn collection by two paintings, two sculptures and 29 works on paper. The original model of the museum’s “Brushstroke” will be on view at the time of the installation and dedication.

The Hirshhorn, which currently serves an estimated 700,000 visitors annually, opened on Oct. 1, 1974, as a result of one individual’s collecting efforts and generous gift. Philanthropist Joseph H. Hirshhorn (1899-1981) donated his extensive personal collection of modern and contemporary art to the United States via the Smithsonian Institution in 1966. The museum’s rapidly growing permanent collection now includes 11,500 paintings, sculptures, mixed-media installations and works on paper.

The Hirshhorn Museum is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., seven days a week (closed Christmas Day). The museum is located at Independence Avenue and Seventh Street S.W. By Metrorail, take the L’Enfant Plaza Metro stop and exit at Maryland Avenue and Seventh Street. Admission to the museum is free.

Note to Editors: Sculpture Installation in mid-September– “Brushstroke,” which weighs nearly 5 tons and must be transported on two trucks, is scheduled to make a predawn arrival at Jefferson Drive near Seventh Street S.W. on Sept. 16. Using two cranes, a construction crew will assemble two giant aluminum pieces that constitute the structure. Details of the installation will follow in a media advisory the week of Sept. 15. Please call the Hirshhorn’s Office of Public Affairs for an up-to-date installation schedule.

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