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Outdoor Sculptures: Modern Head, Vaquero, and Tableau Noir

Outdoor Sculptures: Modern Head, Vaquero, and Tableau Noir

January 1, 1987 – Permanent

Museum: American Art Museum

Location: Outside, near entrances

  • Modern Head (2008): This 31-foot-tall sculpture by pop artist Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) is made of stainless steel painted blue and weighs 13,000 pounds. The sculpture is part of a series Lichtenstein began in the late 1960s that explored the idea of creating images of human figures that look like machines; this concept pervaded the artist's work throughout his career. Lichtenstein created the first Modern Head in 1974 out of wood that was painted blue. In 1989, he produced an edition of four in brushed steel. In 1990, the artist painted one a vibrant blue making it a unique work. Installed in 1996 in Battery Park City, one block from the World Trade Center, the sculpture survived the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack with only surface scratches and was temporarily used by the FBI as a message board during the investigation. It has had several homes before coming to the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The museum acquired the sculpture in 2008. It is on view outside at F & 9th Sts., NW.
  • Vaquero (1987): The colorful fiberglass sculpture of a Mexican cowboy on a bucking blue horse by New Mexico artist Luis Jimenez Jr. (1940-2006). It is on view outside at the G St. entrance.
  • Tableau Noir (The Blackboard) (1970): Alexander Calder’s large painted stabile sculpture. It is on loan from a private collection and is on view outside at the G St. entrance.