Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein was an American artist known for his paintings and prints that referenced commercial art and popular culture icons such as Mickey Mouse. Composed with Ben-Day dots, the method used by newspapers and comic strips to indicate gradients and textures, Lichtenstein’s work mimicked the mechanical technique with his own hand on a much larger scale. He was a leading figure in the establishment of the Pop Art movement, along with Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns. “I take a cliché and try to arrange its forms to make it monumental. The difference often isn’t big, but it’s crucial,” he once said of his work. Born October 27, 1923 in New York, NY, he studied painting with Reginald Marsh at the Art Students League of New York after graduating from high school. Recruited by the U.S. Army during World War II, while stationed in France, he notably encountered the works of European masters and contemporary artists. After the war, he returned to the United States and completed his undergraduate degree at Ohio State University, producing paintings along the lines of abstract expressionism. Lichtenstein began teaching art at Rutgers University in the late 1950s and met other faculty members involved in the New York art scene, including performance artist Allan Kaprow. By the early 1960s, he had begun exhibiting with the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York and made major breakthroughs with works such as Drowning Girl (1963), a satirical take on the melodramatic pulp fiction of the time. Themes of irony and cliché prevailed throughout the rest of Lichtenstein’s career, as evidenced in Pajares (1969), a version of the canonical Claude Monet series. The artist died of pneumonia on September 29, 1997 in New York, NY. Today, his works are in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Tate Modern in London.