Lichtenstein, Roy

  • Roy Lichtenstein was a pop art painter whose works, in a style derived from comic strips, portray the trivialization of culture endemic in contemporary American life. Using bright, strident colors and techniques borrowed from the printing industry, he ironically incorporates mass-produced emotions and objects into highly sophisticated references to art history.

    Born in New York City in 1923, Lichtenstein studied briefly at the Art Students League, then enrolled at Ohio State University.
    After serving in the army from 1943 to 1946, he returned to Ohio State to get a master’s degree and to teach.

    In 1951, Lichtenstein came back to New York City and had his first one-man show. He also continued to teach, first at the New York State College of Education at Oswego, and later at Douglass College, a division of Rutgers University in New Jersey.

    Through the 1950s, Lichtenstein used the basic techniques of abstract expressionism, but incorporated into his compositions such themes as cowboys and Indians and paper money. In 1961, however, while at Douglass College, impressed by the work of colleague Allan Kaprow, he turned to the use of comic-strip and cartoon figures by which he is known today.

    Since 1962, he has turned to the work of artists such as Picasso, Mondrian, and even Monet as inspiration for his work. In the mid-1960s, he also painted sunsets and landscapes in his by-now familiar style.

    In 1996 the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC became the largest single repository of the artist’s work when he donated 154 prints and 2 books. In total there are some 4,500 works thought to be in circulation.

    He died of pneumonia in 1997 at New York University Medical Center.