By Sehba Mohammad on February 2, 2015
Most people instantly recognize pop artist Roy Lichtenstein’s blown-up reproductions of comic strips and advertisements, populated by hard-edged figures and made up of hundred of Ben-Day dots. Aside from aficionados, many don’t know much else about the painter, sculptor, and filmmaker, who over the course of his three-decade career became one of pop art’s leading figures, creating a style that was smart, original, fun, and accessible. To give some insight we’ve put together a handy list of resources that will get you up to speed on both the artist and his artworks.
The New York Times article was written by art critic extraordinaire Holland Cotter in lieu of the 2012 exhibition Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective at the National Gallery of Art. The write-up touches upon the pop icon’s beginnings at Manhattan’s Art Students League and his inclusion in famed dealer Leo Castelli’s stable. It also goes into depth about the artist’s evolution from depictions of cartoon characters to art historical homages.
The Life and Art of Roy Lichtenstein
The 49-minute documentary mainly comprises of a revealing interview with Lichtenstein, interspersed with narrations about the artist’s life and additional interviews with people close to the artist including his gallerist, Leo Castelli. The film reveals intricate details about the artist’s subject matter and practice.
“Crash! Bang! Boom! It’s Roy!” By David Bowie
The conversation between pop legends, Bowie and Lichtenstein, reveals the lighter side of the painter, who reveals his motives behind using Mickey Mouse in his early works, referring to the cartoon character as so American and anti art. Bowie’s questions range from technical: “why do you feel that a romantic or emotional situation needs to be represented mechanically?” to more broad ranged: “does the general public know when it’s looking at art?” Lichtenstein responds to all of them in his characteristic straightforward and causal manner.
The Museum Syndicate website has a representative selection of Lichtenstein’s artwork. They include his iconic ’60s romantic comic book works, such as Hopeless (1963), depicting a teary eyed dejected woman, as well as his ’70s pieces, rife with art historical references. The site also contains a few of his later, abstract works such as Water Lilies with Cloudcan, painted in 1992, five years before he died.
Public Sculptures/ Public Murals
The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation was established a few years after the artist died to continue his legacy. The foundation websites contains a comprehensive list of the artist’s public works located all over the country, and world. They run the gamut from an aluminum sculpture of a house at the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul, South Korea to a 6-by-53-foot canvas installed in the New York City subway station.
Roy Lichtenstein: Sculpture and Drawings
Although he was famous for his paintings Lichtenstein also created many sculptures and drawings. In fact the artist was trained in classical drawings, and used the medium throughout his life for private records and to workout the details of his paintings. The Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC held the first retrospective of the artist’s sculpture and drawings in 1999. The website allows you to tour the show via images.
Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective (2012)
The book Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective, gives a more thorough overview of Lichtenstein’s work. Written and compiled by curatorial genius James Rondeau, it examines the pop master’s entire oeuvre, featuring 130 paintings and sculptures, along with lesser known drawings and collages. It includes essays by historian Yve-Alain Bois, curator Chrissie Iles, and scholar Stephen Little. However, what really adds gravitas to the book is a complete chronology of the artist work, compiled by the Lichtenstein Foundation.