Debi van Zyl



I remember when I first started working as an exhibition designer, I took a million photos during fabrication and installation. I've filled up countless hard drives with images of paint drying on gallery walls (literally) and more excitingly, images of preparators gently placing massive sculptures, shop visits with fabricators, and many in-gallery shots of the teams of people it takes to make an exhibition safe for the art and beautiful for the public. Nowadays, I find that I take fewer and fewer photos of this phase (still my favorite part of my job) , because after 13 years of doing this, the process often looks the same. There is a protocol we all follow and getting an exhibition off the ground is for me, now, a pretty standard practice, so find myself slacking off in the documentation process sometimes. BUT one of latest exhibitions I worked on was different!

Sitting at the edge of your seat? Your should be! The show, Pop for the People: Roy Lichtenstein in L.A., showcases many of the artist's great works, including some of his large paintings of interiors. One gallery is devoted to Lichtenstein's "re-imagining" of work by Picasso, Monet, and van Gogh. It's here that we designed and built a 3D version of Lichtenstein's painting Bedroom at Arles, which is a reinterpretation of van Gogh's The Bedroom. We set out to recreate the room entirely!

The first thing I had to do was turn the 2D painting into construction documents so that we could build the exaggerated perspective of the walls and all the furniture and decor and create all the wall and floor patterns to scale. The crew at the Skirball then built and painted everything by hand to match the angles, lines, and accents from the Lichtenstein painting.

The guys working on this with me were incredibly talented and fully embraced the challenge to build not-your-everyday-museum-furniture. The attention to detail, craftsmanship, and constant reference back to the original image was crucial and is essentially what made this installation the success it is. On opening night there was an hour long wait to get inside the gallery!

The Art Institute of Chicago, who owns The Bedroom paintings by van Gogh, did a similar thing earlier this year where they recreated van Gogh's bedroom in three-dimensions and made it an airbnb rental. It's pretty amazing. If you are in Los Angeles, the exhibition and Lichtenstein bedroom is up at Skirball Cultural Center until March 12, 2017.

You can see more photos of the entire exhibition here.

Debi van Zyl2 Comments