Gawk at Lichtenstein Sculptures While Stuck in Hamptons Traffic

May 30, 2014 12:55 pm ET

May 30 (Bloomberg) -- It took three flatbed trucks, two cranes and a crew of 20 to install Roy Lichtenstein’s sculptures of bold brushstrokes on the front lawn of the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, New York.

Visible from Montauk Highway, the main artery through the tony Hamptons, these two totem-like structures that resemble a painting’s brushstrokes are on public display in the U.S. for the first time.

“Someone told me that now people will have these amazing works to look at when they are stuck in traffic come summertime,” Parrish Director Terrie Sultan said.

“Tokyo Brushstrokes I & II” is on long-term loan from Glenn Fuhrman, who runs MSD Capital LP, the money manager for Michael Dell, the billionaire founder and chief executive officer of Dell Inc. Fuhrman and his wife, Amanda, collect contemporary art and run the exhibition space Flag Art Foundation in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. The Fuhrmans own a home in the Hamptons.

“You can’t miss it,” Glenn Fuhrman said about the work. “It’s a colorful, bright and happy sculpture. It makes people smile.”

Various Sizes

The work, painted in yellow, red, blue, white and black and sporting Lichtenstein’s signature Ben-Day dots, is made of fabricated aluminum. It’s part of the artist’s “brushstroke” series of sculptures constructed mainly in the 1990s in various sizes. “Tokyo Brushstrokes I & II” was made in 1994 for a site in Tokyo. Other monumental brushstroke sculptures are in the collections of museums including the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

The larger of the two pieces at the Parrish stands 33 feet high and weighs 12,000 pounds. Its 19-foot-tall cohort weighs 5,000 pounds.

“A brushstroke is the signature gesture of the creative process,” Sultan said. Lichtenstein turned it into “an iconic three-dimensional object.”

The auction record for a Lichtenstein sculpture belongs to “Brushstroke Nude,” a single 12-foot-tall piece from 1993 that fetched $5.5 million in 2012, according to Artnet Worldwide Corp. The most expensive Lichtenstein painting sold for $56.1 million at Christie’s in 2013.

Hamptons Life

Lichtenstein (1923-1997), known for comic book-inspired paintings composed with Ben-Day dots, and his wife Dorothy began visiting the Hamptons, on the East end of Long Island, in the summer of 1967 and moved to Southhampton in 1970.

“They were deeply engaged in the life of the artist community out here,” Sultan said. “Roy played chess with Fairfield Porter and was friends with Larry Rivers.”

Porter, an American realist painter, lived in Southampton until his death in 1975. His estate donated about 250 of his works to the Parrish in 1979. Rivers, a Pop painter and sculptor who lived in Southampton, died in 2002.

The Lichtenstein sculpture’s verticality complements the museum’s 614-foot-long home designed by Herzog & de Meuron that opened in 2012.

“The thing about Roy is that he understood scale,” said Lucy Mitchell-Innes, director of Manhattan’s Mitchell-Innes and Nash gallery, which has held several solo Lichtenstein exhibitions in the past decade.

“Tokyo Brushstrokes I & II” could be valued at more than $10 million, Mitchell-Innes said. “Roy’s large-scale outdoor sculptures really complete his iconic vision of the brushstroke,” she said.

Discussions about the loan began about a year ago between the Parrish and the Fuhrmans, Sultan said. The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, based in Manhattan, also was involved in the project. Dorothy Lichtenstein, the foundation’s president, is a Parrish board member.

“When you install something as monumental as this, it takes a lot of people and a lot of time,” Sultan said. “You can’t just plop them down.”