Getting a Head @ SAAM
August 27, 2008
It wasn't your typical Wednesday morning in downtown DC. Famed Pop-artist Roy Lichtenstein's Modern Head was installed today outside of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, at the corner of F and Ninth Streets. After arriving on a flatbed truck, the sculpture, which came in two pieces, was hoisted gently onto the street and assembled before being installed. Made of steel and painted an electrifying blue, Modern Head was conceived by the artist in 1974, but fabricated about fifteen years later. It was part of a series Lichtenstein began in the 1960s in which human figures are deliberately made to resemble machines. Looking at Modern Head one can see the abstract geometric forms, precision, and flat planes associated with Art Deco architecture of the 1930s. The sculpture is an exciting addition not just to the Museum, but to the city of Washington DC.
Modern Head also has an interesting story to tell. Originally installed in Battery Park City, one block from the World Trade Center, the sculpture survived the events of 9/11. In fact, the sculpture was temporarily used as a message board by the FBI, until it was removed from the site in November of that year.
With the anniversary of 9/11 right around the corner, it feels right to add this public sculpture to the Museum's grounds. Lichtenstein's Modern Head not only tells the story the artist intended, it also tells the story the world asked it to record.
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