Selby Gardens opens Monet goes Pop! with art work by Roy Lichtenstein

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Staff members at Selby Botanical Gardens acknowledge they could have gotten carried away with inspiration when designing their newest art-meets-nature exhibition “Roy Lichtenstein: Monet’s Garden Goes Pop!”

“We just went a little crazy,” stated Mike McLaughlin, the manager of horticulture, who worked with a group of team members to change the conservatory and motives in an range of whimsical displays that reflect Lichtenstein’s Pop art interpretations of classic works by French Impressionist painter Claude Monet of his own gardens in Giverny, France, and his famed haystacks.

Mike McLaughlin is senior vice president for collections and site operations at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.

“There was a lot to work from,” McLaughlin said of the latest entry the Jean and Alfred Goldstein Exhibition Series, which opens today and continues through June 27 in Selby’s downtown Sarasota campus. The show has featured botanical-related art work by Marc Chagall, Paul Gauguin, Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali.

This year’s exhibit includes several big Lichtenstein prints of Monet’s gardens made with his recognizable Ben-Day dots, thick outlines and contemporary variations of water lilies, in addition to yellow and red sprinkled variations of their haystack paintings. They are on display from the Museum of Botany along with the Arts.

Selby Gardens has several Roy Lichtenstein screen prints on display in the Museum of Botany & the Arts.

“We’re always examining the relationship of the arts to nature with a master artist,” stated Executive Director Jennifer Romeniecki. “It’s a unique way of presenting artists in the unique lens of a botanical garden.”

After past displays, Rominiecki stated she had been approached by many people with thoughts for different musicians to feature. Among them was Monet due to the depictions of those Giverny gardens. But which have been too literal an interpretation of that which she’s been attempting to attain from the sequence.

“We try to do a surprising connection between the artist and nature. So who is an artist you wouldn’t expect to do nature?” Rominiecki said. “And that came around to Lichtenstein because of his water lilies and haystacks. We first had to secure the artwork before creating the exhibition.”

Roy Lichtenstein’s “Water Lilies with Clouds,” a 1992 screenprint on enamel on stainless steel, is one of the pieces featured in Selby Gardens special exhibition “Roy Lichtenstein: Monet’s Garden Goes Pop!”

The Lichtenstein bits on display include private collections( such as Sarasota collector along with philanthropist Flora Major, the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, the Perez Art Museum in Miami and the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach.

Pop artwork is work “that is willfully drawn from other sources,” stated Dr. Carol Ockman, Selby’s curator-at-large who worked closely together with all the gardens staff to make this year’s gardens transformation. She stated Lichtenstein, who died in 1997 at age 73, first rose to prominence through his variations of comic book and marketing pictures.

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