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It's Puzzle Time

The impressive new retrospective of Roy Lichtenstein’s work now on view at the Art Institute has inspired timely thoughts about how contemporary art borrows from popular culture, and vice versa. Lichtenstein’s work really spoke to me, especially paintings and sculpture from the 26 year period beginning in 1961, when Lichtenstein made the pivotal painting Look Mickey. I remember the moment when I first saw Look Mickey, which was adapted from an image in the 1960 children’s book Donald Duck Lost and Found. I had entered the exhibition, standing at the position of the big red star on the attached exhibition map. Out of the corner of my eye, to the west, I glimpsed mouse ears and a duck tail. I turned to face the painting and noted the time, 9:00. “This work is an ‘A,’” I thought to myself, admiring Lichtenstein’s appropriation of the original comic. I drew a red box and time on my map to memorialize the encounter.

As I continued through the exhibition, I was wowed by the surprising range of sources that inspired Lichtenstein’s work, but several pieces in the show particularly helped define my thinking. To capture these thoughts, I marked my map with colored boxes showing where I was standing, and the time, for these special pieces. After navigating through numerous galleries, I entered a room of large nude paintings made after the 26-year period of my primary interest. I suddenly remembered an important letter that I had to write, so I quickly jogged out of the exhibition space and headed due north into the heart of the museum; it was 12:00, and time to return to work.

Based on the notes that I made on the map (click on the image for a much larger version), can you figure out what was on my mind as I left the exhibition?

PRIZES: The first person to e-mail the correct answer to will receive a copy of our beautiful Roy Lichtenstein exhibition catalogue. Additionally, everyone else who submits a correct answer by June 15, 2012 will be entered into a random drawing for more Lichtenstein goodness.

HINT: The clues above should be enough to figure out how to solve the puzzle, but you will probably have to visit the exhibition to come up with the final answer. For those of you unable to make it to the museum, I (might) answer specific, factual questions about the exhibition. Post a comment and I (might, eventually) post a response.