Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein

t the forefront of the Pop Art movement, Roy Lichtenstein became famous for deceivingly simple works that appropriated imagery from popular comic books, pulp fiction, and advertising. Drawing inspiration from the culture at large, he exemplified Pop Art’s complex relationship with societal change and pop culture.

After creating early work which ranged widely in style and subject matter, Lichtenstein arrived at his mature Pop style inspired by comic strips in 1961. He was immediately accused of creating work which was banal and lacked originality and bringing commercial art into the gallery. His working method blended aspects of drawing by hand and mechanical reproduction, seeking to stress the artificiality of his images. Mimicking a commercial press, he used flat, single-color Ben-Day dots of the newspapers which were rendered by hand.

Beginning by borrowing images from comic books and advertising, Lichtenstein later started incorporating those of everyday objects, artistic styles and art history itself. In his acclaimed series “Brushstrokes”, the artist parodied the autographic mark-making of Abstract Expressionism with bold, graphic simulations of brushstrokes, turning it into something clichéd, commercial and reproducible.

Roy Lichtenstein had received numerous awards and recognitions during his career, including the 1977 Skowhegan Medal for Painting, 1979 American Academy of Arts and Letters, 1989 Artist in Residence at the American Academy in Rome, 1991 Creative Award in Painting at Brandeis University, 1993 Amici de Barcelona, from Mayor Pasqual Maragall, 1995 Kyoto Prize from the Inamori Foundation and 1995 National Medal of the Arts.

Throughout his rich and prolific career, Lichtenstein explored a range of oppositions, such as those between reality and artificiality, high art and mass culture and the manual and mechanical, seeking to reveal their mutual dependence.

Lichtenstein was born in New York in 1923 into an upper-middle-class Jewish family. From 1970 until his death, he split his time between Manhattan and Southampton. He died of pneumonia in 1997 at New York University Medical Center, where he had been hospitalized for several weeks.

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