History

Roy Lichtenstein was born in New York City, into an upper-middle-class Jewish family. Lichtenstein first became interested in art and design as an hobby, but in 1939 he enrolled in summer classes at the Art Students League of New York, where he worked under the tutelage of Reginald Marsh. Lichtenstein then left New York to study at the Ohio State University, which offered studio courses and a degree in fine arts.

In 1960, he started teaching at Rutgers University where he was heavily influenced by Allan Kaprow, who was also a teacher at the university. This environment helped reignite his interest in Proto-pop imagery and

he started experimenting with pop art in the early 1960s. His work was as much a commentary on pop culture as it was on Abstract Expressionism. His paintings, which drew heavily on familiar characters found in comic books and advertising, seemed to be a direct contrast to the heavy-handed, search-for-meaning pieces coming out of so much of the rest of the art world.

Primary colors–red, yellow and blue, heavily outlined in black–became his favorites, occasionally using green. Instead of shades of color, he used the Benday dot, a method by which an image is created, and its density of tone modulated in printing. Sometimes he selected a comic-strip scene, recomposed it, projected it onto his canvas and stenciled in the dots.

In the 1970s and 1980s, his work began to loosen and expand on what he had done before. He produced a series of “Artists Studios” which incorporated elements of his previous work. A notable example is Look Mickey (1973, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis) which incorporates five other previous works, fitted into the scene.

In the late 1970s, this style was replaced with more surreal works such as Pow Wow (1979, Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen). In 1977, he was commissioned by BMW to paint a Group 5 Racing Version of the BMW 320i for the third installment in the BMW Art Car Project. In addition to paintings, he also made sculptures in metal and plastic including some notable public sculptures such as Lamp in St. Mary’s, Georgia in 1978, and over 300 prints, mostly in screen printing.

His painting Torpedo…Los! sold at Christie’s for $5.5 million in 1989, a record sum at the time, making him one of only three living artists to have attracted such huge sums.

Exhibitions

Current and future exhibitions:

 

Artists Rooms

Roy Lichtenstein

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, Scotland

March 14, 2015 – January 10, 2016

 

Roy Lichtenstein: Between Sea and Sky

Easthampton Guild Hall, Easthampton, New York

August 8-October 12, 2015

 

Roy Lichtenstein: Greene Street Mural

Gagosian Gallery, New York, NY

September 10 – October 17, 2015

Related Projects