Brushstrokes, 1996

Painted and fabricated aluminum

53 1/4 x 162 x 90 inches
897.3 x 411.5 x 228.6 cm

Collection of Portland Art Museum, Portland Oregon

29.5-Foot-Tall Outdoor Work Marks Opening of Center for Modern and Contemporary Art July 12, 2005--To celebrate the $40 million North Building expansion and opening of the region's largest center for modern art, the Portland Art Museum will install Brushstrokes (1996), by American artist Roy Lichtenstein (1923-97). The sculpture was acquired with the cooperation of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation and Dorothy Lichtenstein, the artist's widow, by the Museum through a generous gift of longtime local arts patron Prudence M. Miller and her family.
Brushstrokes is one of a series of heroic-scaled sculptures that Roy Lichtenstein created in the last decades of his life. Conceptually a reinvention of the 2-D gestural brushstroke as a three-dimensional sculpture, Lichtenstein was working in response to his own early career as an Abstract Expressionist painter and the painterly brushwork of DeKooning. The brushwork-themed work can be seen as the artist's satirical assault on the conventions of Abstract Expressionism-with playful references to everything from Surrealism to the still life painting of Paul Cézanne. The sculpture has been previously exhibited at the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in 2003.
Bruce Guenther, Chief Curator and Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, who selected the work for the Museum, expanded on the work's particular relevancy to the Museum and the opening of the new CMCA. "The Museum has always been known for its celebrated painting collection," said Guenther. "Brushstrokes creates a post-modern moment in considering the 20th century collections and establishes a conceptual framework that reinvents an idea about 'painting' as we have traditionally known it."
The work's transformative powers hint at those of the more than 350 works inside the new CMCA. "Brushstrokes suggests the essential transformation of 20th-century art-the physical world into idea, paint brushstroke into sculpture," said Guenther. "Approaching the museum one sees, at first, something vaguely figurative, then-as the viewer gets closer-the synapse connects that this is a representation of a painters' brushstroke dancing up across the façade of the building, in forms that are counterpoint to one another. A brilliant signifier of the transformation of art."