The Tate Gallery announced today the gift of a large painting by Roy Lichtenstein, Interior with Waterlilies 1991, from the Douglas S. Cramer Foundation.
Lichtenstein, widely considered to be the quintessential American Pop artist, died at the age of 73 on 29 September 1997, and the painting has been given to the Tate Gallery in honour of the artist and his wife Dorothy. The work, a masterpiece from Lichtenstein’s final series, is valued at £1,000,000. It will be the centrepiece of a small memorial display at the Tate Gallery, 22 November 1997-2 March 1998.
Interior with Waterlilies 1991, belongs to Lichtenstein’s final thematic painting series of Interiors, which the artist began in 1991. Derived from advertisements in the Yellow Pages, the images in the series are presented in Lichtenstein’s familiar style which employs striped diagonal lines, black outlines and flat areas of colour. In Interior with Waterlilies 1991, Lichtenstein alters the bland bedroom design in the original advertisement by including representations of his own works of art and one by Jasper Johns, which hangs just above the bed on the right. The waterlilies referred to in the title are part of his continuing homage to Claude Monet. In 1969 Lichtenstein made a series of works based on Monet’s Cathedrals and Haystacks paintings, and in 1990 he began to work on a series of prints derived from the Impressionist artist’s Water Lilies. It is Lichtenstein’s version of Monet, presented in a carved Old Master type frame, that is seen in Interior with Waterlilies.
Douglas Cramer, an American, is well known as a collector and patron of contemporary art and as a successful film and television producer responsible for the hit series The Love Boat and Dynasty. Earlier this year he gave two important sculptures to the Tate, Scamander 1985-6, by Anthony Caro and Trip Hammer 1988, by Richard Serra.
The Tate Gallery was an early supporter of Lichtenstein’s work. In 1966 it purchased his large war-comic based painting Whaam! 1963. A controversial acquisition at the time, it is now one of the most popular works in the collection. In 1968, the Gallery presented a retrospective exhibition of Lichtenstein’s work. The first show at the Tate devoted to a living American artist, it was received with extraordinary enthusiasm by the public.
Douglas Cramer said:
The world lost an extraordinary artist, an irreplacable one, with the untimely death of Roy Lichtenstein. I am deeply saddened at the loss of a great artist - and a very special friend. I was with him just a weekend or two before his final illness and we discussed at that time the placement of works that were in the Cramer Foundation. Interior with Waterlilies was the only one of his works owned by the Foundation and Roy specifically told me it would give him and Dorothy ‘great pleasure’ to have it find a home at the Tate Gallery. I know that the Tate had great personal meaning to Roy, as it always has had to me, and so I am very pleased to have in his memory - and in honor of Dorothy - this amazing painting find its way to the Tate.