I’ve spent this past summer working as a marketing intern at the Art Institute, and I’ve been fortunate that quite a few of my responsibilities have taken me into the (fantastic, I think) Lichtenstein exhibition. My favorite series is the section devoted to early black-and-white works. They were painted the same time as his signature comic book paintings, but are most obviously distinct for their limited color palette of—you guessed it—black and white. They are also missing the narratives of the comic book paintings and show common, everyday objects that Lichtenstein saw in newspaper advertisements and mail order catalogues.
The image I’m always drawn to is Desk Calendar from 1962. The painting shows a physical calendar with days and times printed in a grid. The calendar is also covered with handwritten notes and marks, ostensibly made by the owner of the calendar. Viewers will instantly be able to distinguish which parts of the calendar were originally machine printed and which parts were written by hand. However, this distinction is illusory, because the entire image was hand painted by Lichtenstein. Showing the differences between human-made and machine-made writing without using a computer challenges the viewer to think about the essential differences between human and machine. Neatness, order, subject, and creativity are highlighted as noticeable differences.
A lot has changed since the 1960s; within my Google calendar, all of the words look exactly the same. I still can tell through the subject and the creativity of the writing what I actually wrote, but the visuals no longer help in making that distinction. I might now be able to get electronic invitations and reminders five minutes before a meeting, but Desk Calendar also makes me realize that I also might have given up a little piece of my humanity in exchange.
1 day 1 hour ago The Art Institute of Chicago Congratulations to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on their grand opening this weekend. The building, designed by architect David Adjaye, is a truly historic addition to the National Mall in Washington D.C. #APeoplesJourney #MakingHistory
1 day 3 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago Time machines, superheroes, wild creatures, and more… JourneyMaker makes every visit to the museum an adventure.
Try this new digital interactive for families in the museum’s Ryan Learning Center, located in the Modern Wing, or print out a tour at home.
2 days 1 hour ago The Art Institute of Chicago Today marks the autumn equinox and the official end of summer. Celebrate the changing of the seasons with the latest in ARTicle’s Sound and Vision series, matching songs from around the world with our encyclopedic collection.