Roy Lichtenstein

Biography

One of the most influential artists of the second half of the twentieth century, Roy Lichtenstein, born in 1923 in Manhattan, is predominantly identified as leading the American Pop Art movement of the 1960s among artists such as Andy Warhol and James Rosenquist. 

Lichtenstein’s studies at the Ohio State University were brought to a pause by drafting by the army, which he served in from 1943 to 1946. He then returned because of his father’s illness and eventual death, finishing with an MA from OSU in Fine Art. In 1951, Lichtenstein had his first solo exhibition at the Carlebach Gallery in New York. During the 1950s, Lichtenstein was mostly working on various teaching posts but simultaneously he was gravitating towards drawing from printed images. His iconography was coming mostly from 19th century earnest paintings he poked fun at.

By 1961, Lichtenstein had found his trademark mode of expression. His exaggeration of Ben Day dots in his paintings is a key characteristic of his work and consequently a symbol of Pop Art as a movement. This bold style of painting often featuring jokingly mundane subject matter, cartoon characters, and speech balloons, caught the attention of top contemporary art dealer Leo Castelli in 1962. Castelli’s gallery exhibited his work in New York on several occasions.

An oeuvre of more than 5000 works was produced by Lichtenstein during his life. After he had achieved commercial success in the early 60s, he went on to do brushstroke paintings mimicking then altering works of Picasso, Cézanne, and Mondrian. Lichtenstein’s pursuits also have stretched to witty murals, sculpture, and other peculiar objects with his own take.

He died in 1997, aged 73, in New York City.

Permanent collections of the artist’s works are found at the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C; the Art Institute of Chicago; the MoMA, Manhattan; Museum Ludwig, Cologne. Among others.

Notably the first American with works exhibited at the Tate Gallery, London (1964). Retrospectives include; Pasadena Art Museum, California (1964); Guggenheim, New York (1969); Louisiana Museum of Modern, Denmark (2003).