Roy Lichtenstein

(American, 1923 - 1997)


“Pop Art looks out into the world. It doesn’t look like a painting of something, it looks like the thing itself.”

- Roy Lichtenstein


Roy Lichtenstein was born in New York City, to Beatrice and Milton Lichtenstein, a successful real estate developer. As a youngster, he had a passion for both science and comic books. As he grew into his teen years, he became interested in art and took watercolor classes at Parsons School of Design in 1937 and at the Art Students League in 1940. After graduation he attended The Ohio State University, however his studies were put on a hold when he was drafted and sent to Europe for World War II.

After the war in 1946, Lichtenstein returned to Ohio State and finished both his fine art undergraduate and master’s degrees. Very briefly, he taught at Ohio State and then moved to Cleveland where he worked as a window designer for a department store, industrial designer, and commercial-art instructor. Also around this time in the late 40s, he exhibited his pieces in galleries nationwide.

During the 1960s he began experimenting with different subjects and methods while teaching at Rutgers University. This new work was both a commentary on American pop culture, and his reaction to the success of Abstract Expressionist paintings, such as those by Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Lichtenstein was not as abstract motivated, but instead took inspiration directly from comics and advertisements. By the mid 1960s, Lichtenstein was nationally recognized as a Pop Art leader, which also includes Andy Warhol, James Rosenquist, and Claes Oldenburg.

Lichtenstein became turned to 20th century masters such as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Salvador Dali, and Fernand Léger in the 1970s for inspiration, and less from comics. Then in the 1980s he was commissioned for several works, one being a 25-foot high sculpture for the Port Columbus International Airport and a five-story tall mural for the Equitable Tower in New York. Other commissions were completed in Miami Beach, Barcelona, Minneapolis, Columbus, and Singapore. He was committed to art until his death, and spent long hours in his studio – up to 10. His legacy continues to live on, and his works are featured in museums and galleries around the world.


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