Edited from Wikipedia
Roy Fox Lichtenstein (October 27, 1923 – September 29, 1997) was a pop artist. During the 1960s, along with Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, and James Rosenquist among others, he became a leading figure in the new art movement. His work defined the premise of pop art through parody.
Inspired by the comic strip, Lichtenstein produced precise compositions that documented while they parodied, often in a tongue-in-cheek manner. His work was influenced by popular advertising and the comic book style. He described pop art as "not 'American' painting but actually industrial painting".
Whaam! and Drowning Girl are generally regarded as Lichtenstein's most famous works, with Oh, Jeff...I Love You, Too...But... arguably third.
His most expensive piece is Masterpiece, which was sold for $165 million in January 2017
Lichtenstein was born in New York, into an upper-middle-class Jewish family. He attended New York's Dwight School, graduating from there in 1940. Lichtenstein first became interested in art and design as a hobby, through school. He was an avid jazz fan, often attending concerts at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. He frequently drew portraits of the musicians playing their instruments.
Lichtenstein then left New York to study at Ohio State University, which offered studio courses and a degree in fine arts. His studies were interrupted by a three-year stint in the Army during and after World War II between 1943 and 1946.
He returned to studies in Ohio under the supervision of one of his teachers, Hoyt L. Sherman, who is widely regarded to have had a significant impact on his future work
Lichtenstein entered the graduate program at Ohio State and was hired as an art instructor, a post he held on and off for the next ten years. In 1949 Lichtenstein received a Master of Fine Arts degree from Ohio State University.
In 1951, Lichtenstein had his first solo exhibition at the Carlebach Gallery in New York.
He moved to Cleveland in the same year, where he remained for six years, although he frequently traveled back to New York. During this time he undertook jobs as varied as a draftsman to a window decorator in between periods of painting. His work at this time fluctuated between Cubism and Expressionism.
In 1957, he moved back to upstate New York and began teaching again. It was at this time that he adopted the Abstract Expressionism style, being a late convert to this style of painting.
Lichtenstein began teaching in upstate New York at the State University of New York at Oswego in 1958. About this time, he began to incorporate hidden images of cartoon characters such as Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny into his abstract works.
In 1960, he started teaching at Rutgers University where he was heavily influenced by Allan Kaprow, who was also a teacher at the university. This environment helped reignite his interest in Proto-pop imagery.
In 1961, Lichtenstein began his first pop paintings using cartoon images and techniques derived from the appearance of commercial printing. This phase would continue to 1965 and included the use of advertising imagery suggesting consumerism and homemaking.
In 1961, Leo Castelli started displaying Lichtenstein's work at his gallery in New York. Lichtenstein had his first one-man show at the Castelli gallery in 1962; the entire collection was bought by influential collectors before the show even opened.
A group of paintings produced between 1961 and 1962 focused on solitary household objects such as sneakers, hot dogs, and golf balls. In September 1963 he took a leave of absence from his teaching position at Douglass College at Rutgers.
His works were inspired by comics featuring war and romantic stories “At that time,” Lichtenstein later recounted, “I was interested in anything I could use as a subject that was emotionally strong – usually love, war, or something that was highly charged and emotional subject matter to be opposite to the removed and deliberate painting techniques".
It was at this time that Lichtenstein began to find fame not just in America but worldwide. He moved back to New York to be at the center of the art scene and resigned from Rutgers University in 1964 to concentrate on his painting. Lichtenstein used oil and Magna (early acrylic) paint in his best known works, such as Drowning Girl (1963), which was appropriated from the lead story in DC Comics' Secret Hearts No. 83. (Drowning Girl now hangs in the Museum of Modern Art, New York.)
Drowning Girl also features thick outlines, bold colors and Ben-Day dots, as if created by photographic reproduction. Of his own work Lichtenstein would say that the Abstract Expressionists "put things down on the canvas and responded to what they had done, to the color positions and sizes. My style looks completely different, but the nature of putting down lines pretty much is the same; mine just don't come out looking calligraphic, like Pollock's or Kline's."
Rather than attempt to reproduce his subjects, Lichtenstein's work tackled the way in which the mass media portrays them. He would never take himself too seriously, however, saying: "I think my work is different from comic strips – but I wouldn't call it transformation; I don't think that whatever is meant by it is important to art."
When Lichtenstein's work was first exhibited, many art critics of the time challenged its originality. His work was harshly criticized as vulgar and empty. The title of a Life magazine article in 1964 asked, "Is He the Worst Artist in the U.S.?"
Lichtenstein responded to such claims by offering responses such as the following: "The closer my work is to the original, the more threatening and critical the content. However, my work is entirely transformed in that my purpose and perception are entirely different. I think my paintings are critically transformed, but it would be difficult to prove it by any rational line of argument."
He discussed experiencing this heavy criticism in an interview with April Bernard and Mimi Thompson in 1986. Suggesting that it was at times difficult to be criticized, Lichtenstein said, "I don't doubt when I'm actually painting, it's the criticism that makes you wonder, it does."
Lichtenstein began experimenting with sculpture around 1964, demonstrating a knack for the form that was at odds with the insistent flatness of his paintings. For Head of Girl (1964), and Head with Red Shadow (1965), he collaborated with a ceramicist who sculpted the form of the head out of clay. Lichtenstein then applied a glaze to create the same sort of graphic motifs that he used in his paintings; the application of black lines and Ben-Day dots to three-dimensional objects resulted in a flattening of the form
Most of Lichtenstein's best-known works are relatively close, but not exact, copies of comic book panels, a subject he largely abandoned in 1965, though he would occasionally incorporate comics into his work in different ways in later decades.
Lichtenstein's works based on enlarged panels from comic books engendered a widespread debate about their merits as art. Lichtenstein himself admitted, "I am nominally copying, but I am really restating the copied thing in other terms. In doing that, the original acquires a totally different texture. It isn't thick or thin brushstrokes, it's dots and flat colors and unyielding lines."
Although Lichtenstein's comic-based work gained some acceptance, concerns are still expressed by critics who say Lichtenstein did not credit, pay any royalties to, or seek permission from the original artists or copyright holders.
In an interview for a BBC Four documentary in 2013, Alastair Sooke asked the comic book artist Dave Gibbons if he considered Lichtenstein a plagiarist. Gibbons replied: "I would say 'copycat'. In music for instance, you can't just whistle somebody else's tune or perform somebody else's tune, no matter how badly, without somehow crediting and giving payment to the original artist. That's to say, this is 'WHAAM! by Roy Lichtenstein, after Irv Novick'."
In the early 1960s, Lichtenstein reproduced masterpieces by Cézanne, Mondrian and Picasso before embarking on the Brushstrokes series in 1965. Lichtenstein continued to revisit this theme later in his career with works such as Bedroom at Arles that derived from Vincent van Gogh's Bedroom in Arles.
In 1970, Lichtenstein was commissioned by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (within its Art and Technology program developed between 1967 and 1971) to make a film. With the help of Universal Film Studios, the artist conceived of, and produced, Three Landscapes, a film of marine landscapes, directly related to a series of collages with landscape themes he created between 1964 and 1966. Although Lichtenstein had planned on producing 15 short films, the three-screen installation – made with New York-based independent filmmaker Joel Freedman – turned out to be the artist's only venture into the medium.
Also in 1970, Lichtenstein purchased a former carriage house in Southampton, Long Island, built a studio on the property, and spent the rest of the 1970s in relative seclusion.
In the 1970s and 1980s, his style began to loosen and he expanded on what he had done before. Lichtenstein began a series of Mirrors paintings in 1969. By 1970, while continuing on the Mirrors series, he started work on the subject of entablatures. The Entablatures consisted of a first series of paintings from 1971 to 1972, followed by a second series in 1974–76, and the publication of a series of relief prints in 1976. He produced a series of "Artists’ Studios" which incorporated elements of his previous work. A notable example being Artist's Studio, Look Mickey (1973, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis) which incorporates five other previous works, fitted into the scene.
During a trip to Los Angeles in 1978, Lichtenstein was fascinated by lawyer Robert Rifkind's collection of German Expressionist prints and illustrated books. He began to produce works that borrowed stylistic elements found in Expressionist paintings. The White Tree (1980) evokes lyric Der Blaue Reiter landscapes, while Dr. Waldmann (1980) recalls Otto Dix's Dr. Mayer-Hermann (1926). Small colored-pencil drawings were used as templates for woodcuts, a medium favored by Emil Nolde and Max Pechstein, as well as Dix and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
Also in the late 1970s, Lichtenstein's style was replaced with more surreal works such as Pow Wow (1979, Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen).
Lichtenstein died of pneumonia in 1997 at New York University Medical Center, where he had been hospitalized for several weeks
Roy Lichtenstein sales records
Work Date Price Source
Big Painting No. 6 November 1970 $75,000
Torpedo...Los! 7 November 1989 $5.5M
Kiss II 1990 $6.0M
Happy Tears November 2002 $7.1M
In the Car 2005 $16.2M
Ohhh...Alright... November 2010 $42.6M
I Can See the Whole Room...and There's Nobody in It! November 2011 $43.0M
Sleeping Girl 9 May 2012 $44.8M
Woman with Flowered Hat 15 May 2013 $56.1M
Nurse 9 November 2015 $95.4M
Masterpiece January 2017 $165M