PARIS - Guillaume Levy-Lambert and Mark Goh talk to Mitchell Lichtenstein, son of Roy Lichtenstein, about their shared passion for Lichtenstein’s work, and the key role that Desk Calendar, Lichtenstein’s iconic work from 1962, played in the story of these contemporary collectors. Established in 1999, MaGMA celebrates Levi-Lambert and Goh’s extensive collection of contemporary Asian art, a collection that began with a life-changing encounter with this Lichtenstein work.
Roy Lichtenstein, Desk Calendar, 1962. © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein.
Mitchell, how does Desk Calendar sit in your father’s career? And what is your interpretation of the autobiographical references? – “call Stan” refers to a painter friend of your dad; I. Wilson is Isabel Wilson, your mother; 212-288-4820 was Leo Castelli’s phone number.
It’s one of his most personal paintings, one of the very few that contain any personal information. Typically, he is very careful to erase any sign of the personal (at least overtly). Desk Calendar is a bit of an anomaly that way, and because of that it’s one of my favourites.
I don’t remember when I first saw it [Desk Calendar], but I have always been aware of it. He never discussed it with me. As far as I know, this is the only work with overt personal references.
Are you aware of anything special that occurred to your father on May 21, 1962?
If that date has any special meaning, it is still a mystery.
Roy and Mitchell Lichtenstein in 1964. © Dan Budnik.
The date circled on the painting, October 26, is also your stepmother Dorothy’s birthday; yet, your father and Dorothy only met in 1964. How do you explain this?
It wouldn’t surprise me if he had the date of his own birthday wrong, which is the 27th.
Have you ever discussed the personal references and the specificity of the date with Dorothy?
We have remarked on the October 26 date, and she is unable to explain it.
We called our encounter with your father’s work The Calendar Story, due to the significance of the imagery and its relation to us personally on the day we viewed it – both dates featured on the work are our birthdays. What do you feel about our story?
I thought you were one of the most romantic people I’d ever met.
Has your father’s work affected others in the way that it has shaped ours?
I’ve found that many people have been profoundly influenced by my father’s work, but not in the same way, or to the degree that MaGMA has.
Visit MaGMA on Facebook