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Roy Lichtenstein Foundation to donate photograps to major institutions

Dorothy Lichtenstein, President, and Jack Cowart, Executive Director of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation announced that the Foundation is giving approximately 200,000 black and white prints, color prints, negatives, contact sheets and color transparencies and slides from its invaluable Harry Shunk and Shunk-Kender Photography Collection to five major institutions, making permanently accessible an unmatched record of an entire era in the visual arts. The donation is the first of its kind, establishing a consortium among the institutions that will both receive and share the materials—the Getty Research Institute, The Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Art, Centre Pompidou and Tate—and is notable for spanning the Atlantic, as did the careers of the photographers themselves.

The leading institution in the consortium and recipient of the largest body of gifts is the Getty Research Institute (GRI). It will receive approximately 183,000 items: a near-complete set of 19,000 prints, 12,000 contact sheets, 126,000 negatives, 26,000 color transparencies and slides, all of the digital assets including the low- and high-resolution images, as well as the inventories. The J. Paul Getty Trust will also manage the photographers’ copyright, as gifted from the Lichtenstein Foundation. The other four institutions can also handle requests and permissions for academic uses of their holdings.

Centre Pompidou will receive approximately 10,000 prints as well as low- and high-resolution images representing most of the artists, events and exhibitions seen in the GRI materials. The Pompidou will actively share this key set with Tate for research, publication and exhibitions.

The National Gallery of Art will receive a complete set of approximately 2,300 prints of all the Christo photographs in the collection. This material dating from circa 1960 to 1976 has been selected because the National Gallery already holds a significant body of work by Christo and Jeanne-Claude spanning more than four decades with the Herbert and Dorothy Vogel Collection.

The Museum of Modern Art will receive 638 prints, including a set of 5 prints of Yves Klein’s Leap into the Void and 92 prints of Yayoi Kusama’s happenings The Anatomic Explosion and Mirror Performance (both 1968, New York). The highlight of the MoMA gift is a near-complete extant set of photographs of the Pier 18 exhibition (1971). Organized on an abandoned pier on the Hudson River, Pier 18 was a monumental performance project conceived by Willoughby Sharp. An invited group of 27 artists including John Baldessari, Mel Bochner, Daniel Buren, Dan Graham, Gordon Matta-Clark, Dennis Oppenheim, Richard Serra and Michael Snow created ephemeral performances or projects on the pier, which Shunk-Kender photographed. MoMA then mounted an exhibition of the photographs, which were, and are, the only contemporaneous record of the event and the individual works.

The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation will temporarily hold the remaining prints, documents, books, ephemera and photography equipment that have not been distributed to the consortium members. The Foundation intends to offer further gifts from this material to the consortium or will place them with other interested institutions.

Beginning operation in 1999 in accordance with the wishes of the artist and his immediate family, the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation’s mission is to encourage and support a broader understanding and experience of the art of Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) and of the contemporary art and artists of his time. The Foundation aspires to carry forward the artist’s interests and legacy to many subsequent generations of art audiences and the general public. The Foundation focuses not only on expanding the roles and development of artist-endowed foundations but also on the broader implications of Lichtenstein’s art with its global relations to historical process, critical fortune, museums, galleries, collectors, critics and students, young and old.