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Lichtenstein, Roy

Roy Lichtenstein

Born: October 27, 1923
New York, New York
Died: September 29, 1997
New York, New York

American artist, painter, sculptor, and printmaker

Roy Lichtenstein, American painter, sculptor, and printmaker, startled the art world in 1962 by exhibiting paintings based on comic book cartoons.

Early life

Roy Lichtenstein was born in New York City on October 27, 1923, the son of Milton and Beatrice Werner Lichtenstein. His father owned a real estate firm. Lichtenstein studied with artist Reginald Marsh (18981954) at the Art Students League in 1939. After graduating from Benjamin Franklin High School in New York City, he entered Ohio State University. However, in 1943 his education was interrupted by three years of army service, during which he drew up maps for planned troop movements across Germany during World War II (193945; a war in which Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States fought against Germany, Japan, and Italy). Lichtenstein received his bachelor of fine arts degree from Ohio State University in 1946 and a master of fine arts degree in 1949. He taught at Ohio State until 1951, then went to Cleveland, Ohio, to work. In 1957 he started teaching at Oswego State College in New York; in 1960 he moved to Rutgers University in New Jersey. Three years later he gave up teaching to paint full-time.

Early works

From 1951 to about 1957 Lichtenstein's paintings dealt with themes of the American Westcowboys, Native Americans, and the likein a style similar to that of modern European painters. Next he began hiding images of comic strip figures (such as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Bugs Bunny) in his paintings. By 1961 he had created the images for which he became known. These included advertisement illustrationscommon objects such as string, golf balls, kitchen curtains, slices of pie, or a hot dogs. He also used other artists' works to create new pieces, such as Woman with Flowered Hat (1963), based on a reproduction of a work by Pablo Picasso (18811973). He also created versions of paintings by Piet Mondrian (18721944), Gilbert Stuart's (17551828) portrait of George Washington (17321799), and Claude Monet's (18401926) haystacks.

Lichtenstein was best known for his paintings based on comic strips, with their themes of passion, romance, science fiction, violence, and war. In these paintings, Lichtenstein uses the commercial art methods: projectors magnify spray-gun stencils, creating dots to make the pictures look like newspaper cartoons seen through a magnifying glass. In the late 1960s he turned to design elements and the commercial art of the 1930s, as if to explore the history of pop art (a twentieth-century art movement that uses everyday items). In 1966 his work was included in the Venice (Italy) Biennale art show. In 1969 New York's Guggenheim Museum gave a large exhibition of his work.

Tries different styles

The 1970s saw Lichtenstein continuing to experiment with new styles. His "mirror" paintings consist of sphere-shaped canvases with areas of color and dots. One of these, Self-Portrait (1978), is similar to the work of artist René Magritte (18981967) in its playful placement of a mirror where a human head should be. Lichtenstein also created a series of still lifes (paintings that show inanimate objects) in different styles during the 1970s. In the 1980s and 1990s, Lichtenstein began to mix and match styles. Often his works relied on optical (relating to vision) tricks, drawing his viewers into a debate over the nature of "reality." The works were always marked by Lichtenstein's trademark sense of humor and the absurd.

Lichtenstein's long career and large body of work brought him appreciation as one of America's greatest living artists. In 1994 he designed a painting for the hull of the United States entry in the America's Cup yacht race. A series of sea-themed works followed. In 1995 the Los Angeles County Museum of Art launched a traveling exhibition, "The Prints of Roy Lichtenstein," which covered more than twenty years of his work in this medium.

In a 1996 exhibition at New York City's Leo Castelli gallery, Lichtenstein unveiled a series of paintings, "Landscapes in the Chinese Style," which consisted of delicate "impressions" of traditional Chinese landscape paintings. The series was praised for its restraint (control), as common Lichtenstein elements, such as the use of dots to represent mass, were used to support the compositions rather than to declare an individual style. Lichtenstein died on September 29, 1997, in New York City, at the age of seventy-three.

For More Information

Alloway, Lawrence. Roy Lichtenstein. New York: Abbeville Press, 1983.

Waldman, Diane. Roy Lichtenstein. New York: Rizzoli Publications, 1993.

Walker, Lou Ann. Roy Lichtenstein: The Artist at Work. New York: Lodestar Books, 1994.

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Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), American painter, sculptor, and printmaker, startled the art world in 1962 by exhibiting paintings based on comic-book cartoons.

Roy Lichtenstein was born in New York City in 1923. He attended school there, and in 1939 studied with Reginald Marsh at the Art Students League. The following year he entered Ohio State University. However, in 1943 his education was interrupted; he served in the U.S. Army for three years. He received his bachelor of fine arts degree from Ohio State University in 1946 and a master of fine arts in 1949. He taught at Ohio State until 1951, then went to Cleveland to work. In 1957 he started teaching at Oswego State College in New York; in 1960 he moved to Rutgers University. Three years later he gave up teaching to paint full time.

From 1951 to about 1957 Lichtenstein's paintings interpret themes of the American West— cowboys, Indians, and the like—in a style broadly imitative of modern European painters. Next, he began hiding images of comic strip figures (Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny) in his paintings. By 1961 he had evolved the imagery for which he became known. Broadly, he uses four types of images. The first three are advertisement illustrations—commonplace objects such as string, golf balls, kitchen curtains, slices of pie, or a hot dog. He also used ommercialized variants of other artists' works, such as Woman with Flowered Hat (1963), based on a coarse, supermarket reproduction of a Picasso, and adaptations of paintings by Piet Mondrian, of Gilbert Stuart's portrait of George Washington, and of Claude Monet's haystacks and cathedral facades.

The fourth type of Lichtenstein imagery appears in paintings based on comic strips, with their themes of passion, romance, science fiction, violence, and war. In these, Lichtenstein employs the techniques of commercial art: projectors magnify and spray-gun stencils create dots to make the pictures look like newspaper cartoons seen through a magnifying glass.

Lichtenstein's art is irreverent, at times antiseptic, yet the impact is usually brutal. He is fascinated with converting the banal into art and debasing fine art through commercialization. In the late 1960s he turned to design elements found in Art-Deco and the commercial art of the 1930s, as if to explore pop art's forerunners. In 1966 his work was included in the Venice Biennale. In 1969 New York's Guggenheim Museum gave him a large retrospective exhibition.

The 1970s saw Lichtenstein continuing to experiment with new styles. His "mirror" paintings consist of spherical canvases with areas of color and dots. One of these, Self-Portrait (1978), follows Magritte in its playful placement of a mirror where a human head should be. During this decade, Lichtenstein also created a series of still lifes in different styles.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Lichtenstein began to mix and match styles, often augmenting his cartoony images with ideas derived from abstract expressionism. Often his works relied on optical tricks or illusions, drawing his viewers into a debate over the nature of "reality." Always the works were marked by Lichtenstein's trademark sense of humor and the absurd.

Lichtenstein's longevity and prolific output brought him appreciation as one of America's greatest living artists. His reputation as a gray eminence was solidified by his 1994 commission to design a painting to adorn the hull of the United State's entry in the America's Cup yacht race. A series of maritime-themed works followed. In 1995, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art launched a traveling exhibition, "The Prints of Roy Lichtenstein," which covered more than two decades of his work in this medium.

1996 marked a major departure for Lichtenstein. In an exhibition at New York's Leo Castelli gallery, he unveiled a series of paintings, "Landscapes in the Chinese Style," which eschewed irony in favor of delicate, wispy "impressions" of traditional Chinese landscape paintings. The series was praised for its subtlety and restraint, as recognizable Lichtenstein techniques—the use of modulated dots to represent mass for example—were used to support the compositions rather than to declare an individual style. Lichtenstein died on Sept. 29, 1997, at the age of 73.

Further Reading

Two museum catalogs are Roy Lichtenstein: Exhibition Held at the Tate Gallery, 6 January-4 February 1968 (1968), with an essay on the artist and an interview with him, and Diane Waldman, Roy Lichtenstein (1969), written for the 1969 Guggenheim exhibition. Further material on Lichtenstein and pop art is in Lucy R. Lippard, Pop Art (1966), and John Russell and Suzi Gablik, comps., Pop Art Redefined (1969). Books focused exclusively on the artist include Lawrence Alloway, Roy Lichtenstein (1983), Lou Ann Walker, Roy Lichtenstein: The Artist at Work (1994), and Janis Hendrickson, Roy Lichtenstein (1996). □

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Lichtenstein, Roy

Roy Lichtenstein (lĬk´tənstīn´), 1923–97, American painter, b. New York City. A master of pop art, Lichtenstein derived his subject matter from popular sources such as comic strips, the imagery of which he used until the early 1970s. His paintings reflect modern typographic and printing techniques such as Ben-Day dots and make innovative use of commonplace imagery. Among Lichtenstein's sophisticated and ironic works are Flatten … sandfleas (1962; Mus. of Modern Art, New York City) and Preparedness (1968; Guggenheim Mus.). His works of the 1970s and 80s largely consist of ironic reinterpretatons of cubist still lives and of other well-known paintings by famous painters. His paintings of the 1980s and 90s, which often include both real and simulated brush strokes, are typified by the large canvas Figures in a Landscape (1986). Liechtenstein is also noted for his brightly colored Pop graphics.

See studies by E. Sussman (1978), L. Alloway (1983), and B. Rose (1987); catalogue raisonné of his prints ed. by M. L. Corlett and R. E. Fine (2002).

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Lichtenstein, Roy

Lichtenstein, Roy (1923–97) US painter, sculptor, and graphic artist. Lichtenstein experimented with abstract expressionism, but is now regarded as a leading exponent of pop art. Among his best-known paintings are Whaam! (1963) and Good Morning, Darling (1964).

http://www.lichtensteinfoundation.org/

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