Roy Lichtenstein, 1985
|Birth name||Roy Fox Lichtenstein|
October 27, 1923|
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
|Died||September 29, 1997
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
|Spouse||Isabel Wilson (1949-1965; divorced; 2 children)
Dorothy Herzka (1968-1997; his death)
|Training||The Ohio State University|
Roy Lichtenstein (pronounced //; October 27, 1923 – September 29, 1997) was an American pop artist. During the 1960s, his paintings were exhibited at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York City and, along with Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, James Rosenquist, and others. He became a leading figure in the new art movement. His work defined the basic premise of pop art better than any other through parody. Favoring the old-fashioned comic strip as subject matter, Lichtenstein produced hard-edged, precise compositions that documented while it parodied often in a tongue-in-cheek humorous manner. His work was heavily influenced by both popular advertising and the comic book style. He described pop art as, "not 'American' painting but actually industrial painting".
Roy Lichtenstein was born in New York City, into an upper-middle-class Jewish family. His father, Milton, was a real estate broker, his mother, Beatrice (Werner), a homemaker. He was raised on the Upper West Side and attended public school until the age of twelve. He then enrolled at New York's Franklin School for Boys, remaining there for his secondary education. Lichtenstein first became interested in art and design as a hobby, and 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. In his last year of high school, 1939, Lichtenstein enrolled in summer classes at the Art Students League of New York, where he worked under the tutelage of Reginald Marsh.
Lichtenstein then left New York to study at the 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. After being in training programs for languages, engineering, and pilot training, all of which were cancelled, he served as an orderly, draftsman, and artist.
Lichtenstein returned home to visit his dying father and was discharged from the army with eligibility for the G.I. Bill. 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 would later name a new studio he funded at OSU as the Hoyt L. Sherman Studio Art Center).
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 the 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 1954, his first son, David Hoyt Lichtenstein, now a songwriter, was born. His second son, Mitchell Lichtenstein, was born in 1956.
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.
Rise to fame
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. His first work to feature the large-scale use of hard-edged figures and Ben-Day dots was Look Mickey (1961, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.). This piece came from a challenge from one of his sons, who pointed to a Mickey Mouse comic book and said; "I bet you can't paint as good as that, eh, Dad?" In the same year he produced six other works with recognizable characters from gum wrappers and cartoons.
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 1961-1962 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.
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 paint in his best known works, such as Drowning Girl (1963), which was appropriated from the lead story in DC Comics' Secret Hearts #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 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, his work tackled the way mass media portrays them. Lichtenstein would never take himself too seriously however: "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 his work was first released, 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 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.”
His most famous image is arguably Whaam! (1963, Tate Modern, London), one of the earliest known examples of pop art, adapted a comic-book panel from a 1962 issue of DC Comics' All-American Men of War. The painting depicts a fighter aircraft firing a rocket into an enemy plane, with a red-and-yellow explosion. The cartoon style is heightened by the use of the onomatopoeic lettering "Whaam!" and the boxed caption "I pressed the fire control... and ahead of me rockets blazed through the sky..." This diptych is large in scale, measuring 1.7 x 4.0 m (5 ft 7 in x 13 ft 4 in).Whaam is widely regarded as one of his finest and most notable works. It follows the comic strip-based themes of some of his previous paintings and is part of a body of war-themed work created between 1962 and 1964. It is one of his two notable large war-themed paintings. It was purchased by the Tate Modern in 1966, after being exhibited at the Leo Castelli Gallery in 1963, and has remained in their collection since.
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 his best-known artworks are relatively close, but not exact, copies of comic book panels, a subject he largely abandoned in 1965. (He would occasionally incorporate comics into his work in different ways in later decades.) These panels were originally drawn by such comics artists as Jack Kirby and DC Comics artists Russ Heath, Tony Abruzzo, Irv Novick, and Jerry Grandenetti, who rarely received any credit. Jack Cowart, executive director of the Lichtenstein Foundation, contests the notion that Lichtenstein was a copyist, saying: "Roy's work was a wonderment of the graphic formulae and the codification of sentiment that had been worked out by others. The panels were changed in scale, color, treatment, and in their implications. There is no exact copy." However, some have been critical of Lichtenstein's use of comic-book imagery and art pieces, especially insofar as that use has been seen as endorsement of a patronizing view of comics by the art mainstream; noted comics author Art Spiegelman commented that "Lichtenstein did no more or less for comics than Andy Warhol did for soup."
In 1966, Lichtenstein moved on from his much-celebrated imagery of the early 1960s, and began his Modern Paintings series, including over 60 paintings and accompanying drawings. Using his characteristic Ben Day dots and geometric shapes and lines, he rendered incongruous, challenging images out of familiar architectural structures, patterns borrowed from Art Déco and other subtly evocative, often sequential, motifs. The Modern Sculpture series of 1967–8 made reference to motifs from Art Déco architecture.
In the early 1960s, Lichtenstein reproduced masterpieces by Cézanne, Mondrian and Picasso before embarking on the Brushstroke 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 1971–72, 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.
In the late 1970s, this style was replaced with more surreal works such as Pow Wow (1979, Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen). A major series of Surrealist-Pop paintings from 1979–81 is based on Native American themes. These works range Amerind Figure (1981), a stylized life-size sculpture reminiscent of a streamlined totem pole in black-patinated bronze, to the monumental wool tapestry Amerind Landscape (1979). The "Indian" works took their themes, like the other parts of the Surrealist series, from contemporary art and other sources, including books on American Indian design from Lichtenstein's small library.
Lichtenstein's Still Life paintings, sculptures and drawings, which span from 1972 through the early 1980s, cover a variety of motifs and themes, including the most traditional such as fruit, flowers, and vases. In his Reflection series, produced between 1988 and 1990, Lichtenstein reused his own motifs from previous works.Interiors (1991–1992) is a series of works depicting banal domestic environments inspired by furniture ads the artist found in telephone books or on billboards. Having garnered inspiration from the monochromatic prints of Edgar Degas featured in a 1994 exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the motifs of his Landscapes in the Chinese Style series are formed with simulated Benday dots and block contours, rendered in hard, vivid color, with all traces of the hand removed. The nude is a recurring element in Lichtenstein's work of the 1990s, such as in Collage for Nude with Red Shirt (1995).
In 1969, Lichtenstein was commissioned by Gunter Sachs to create Composition and Leda and the Swan, for the collector's famous Pop Art bedroom suite at the Palace Hotel in St. Moritz. In the late 1970s and during the 1980s, Lichtenstein received major commissions for works in public places: the sculptures Lamp (1978) in St. Mary’s, Georgia; Mermaid (1979) in Miami Beach; the 26 feet tall Brushstrokes in Flight (1984, moved in 1998) at Port Columbus International Airport; the five-storey high Mural with Blue Brushstrokes (1984–85) at the Equitable Center, New York; and El Cap de Barcelona (1992) in Barcelona. In 1994, Lichtenstein created the 53-foot-long, enamel-on-metal Times Square Mural that now hovers over pedestrians in the Times Square subway station. In 1977, he was commissioned by BMW to paint a Group 5 Racing Version of the BMW 320i for the third installment in the BMW Art Car Project. The DreamWorks Records logo was his last completed project. "I'm not in the business of doing anything like that (a corporate logo) and don't intend to do it again," allows Lichtenstein. "But I know Mo Ostin and David Geffen and it seemed interesting."
- 1977 Skowhegan Medal for Painting, Skowhegan School, Skowhegan, Maine.
- 1979 American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York.
- 1989 American Academy in Rome, Rome, Italy. Artist in residence.
- 1991 Creative Arts Award in Painting, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts.
- 1993 Amici de Barcelona, from Mayor Pasqual Maragall, L’Alcalde de Barcelona.
- 1995 Kyoto Prize, Inamori Foundation, Kyoto, Japan.
- 1995 National Medal of the Arts, Washington D.C.
Lichtenstein received numerous Honorary Doctorate degrees from, among others, the George Washington University (1996), Bard College, Royal College of Art (1993), Ohio State University (1987), Southampton College (1980), and the California Institute of the Arts (1977). He also served on the board of the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
In 1949 he married Isabel Wilson, who previously had been married to Ohio artist Michael Sarisky. However, the brutal upstate winters took a toll on Lichtenstein and his wife, after he began teaching at the State University of New York at Oswego in 1958. The couple divorced in 1965.
Erika Wexler, daughter of Norman Wexler, was Lichtenstein's lover from 1991 to 1994, saying that she was the inspiration for his move into painting nudes and is shown in Large Interior with Three Reflections, Nude with Yellow Flower and Nudes With Beach Ball. She described the relationship for the first time in mid-February 2013, while seeking publicity for a new album of songs, and on the eve of a retrospective exhibition at the Tate Modern gallery. She reported that Lichtenstein and his wife, Dorothy Herzka, "had his parallel thing with a lover or whatever and she had her thing. It worked for them. They had a lot of homes, which helps."
He died of pneumonia in 1997 at New York University Medical Center, where he had been hospitalized for several weeks. He was survived by his second wife, Dorothy Herzka, and by his sons, David and Mitchell, from his first marriage.
His work Crying Girl was one of the artworks brought to life in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.
In 1964, Lichtenstein became the first American to exhibit at the Tate Gallery, London, on the occasion of the show "'54–'64: Painting and Sculpture of a Decade". In 1967, his first museum retrospective exhibition was held at the Pasadena Art Museum in California. The same year, his first solo exhibition in Europe was held at museums in Amsterdam, London, Bern and Hannover. Lichtenstein later participated in documentas IV (1968) and VI in (1977). Lichtenstein had his first retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in 1969, organized by Diane Waldman. The Guggenheim presented a second Lichtenstein retrospective in 1994. Lichtenstein became the first living artist to have a solo drawing exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art from March – June 1987. Recent retrospective surveys include the 2003 "All About Art," Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, in Denmark (which traveled on to the Hayward Gallery, London, Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid , and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, until 2005); and "Classic of the New", Kunsthaus Bregenz (2005), "Roy Lichtenstein: Meditations on Art" Museo Triennale, Milan (2010, traveled to the Museum Ludwig, Cologne). In late 2010 The Morgan Library & Museum showed Roy Lichtenstein: The Black-and-White Drawings, 1961–1968. Another major retrospective opened at the Art Institute of Chicago in May 2012 before going to the National Gallery of Art in Washington,Tate Modern in London, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 2013.
In 1996 the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. became the largest single repository of the artist's work when Lichtenstein donated 154 prints and 2 books. The Art Institute of Chicago has several important works by Lichtenstein in its permanent collection, including Brushstroke with Spatter (1966) and Mirror No. 3 (Six Panels) (1971). The personal holdings of Lichtenstein's widow, Dorothy Lichtenstein, and of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation number in the hundreds. In Europe, the Museum Ludwig in Cologne has one of the most comprehensive Lichtenstein holdings. In total there are some 4,500 works thought to be in circulation.
Roy Lichtenstein Foundation
After the artist's death in 1997, the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation was established in 1999. In 2011, the foundation's board decided the benefits of authenticating did not outweigh the risks of protracted lawsuits.
In late 2006, the foundation sent out a holiday card featuring a picture of Electric Cord (1961), a painting that had been missing since 1970 after being sent out to art restorer Daniel Goldreyer by the Leo Castelli Gallery. The card urged the public to report any information about its whereabouts. In 2012, the foundation authenticated the piece when it surfaced at a New York City warehouse.
|Big Painting No. 6||Nov-1970||$75,000|||
|In the Car||2005||$16.2M|||
|I Can See the Whole Room...and There's Nobody in It!||Nov-2011||$43.0M|||
|Woman with Flowered Hat||15-May-2013||$56.1M|||
Since the 1950s Lichtenstein's work has been exhibited in New York and elsewhere with Leo Castelli at his gallery and at Castelli Graphics as well as with Ileana Sonnabend in her gallery in Paris, and at the Ferus Gallery, Pace Gallery, Gagosian Gallery, Mitchell-Innes & Nash, Mary Boone, Brooke Alexander, Carlebach, Rosa Esman, Marilyn Pearl, James Goodman, John Heller, Blum Helman, Hirschl & Adler, Phyllis Kind, Getler Pall, Condon Riley, 65 Thompson Street, Holly Solomon, and Sperone Westwater Galleries among others. Leo Castelli Gallery represented Lichtenstein exclusively since 1962, when a solo show by the artist sold out before it opened.
Big Painting No. 6 (1965) became the highest priced Lichtenstein work in 1970. Like the entire Brushstrokes series, the subject of the painting is the process of Abstract Expressionist painting via sweeping brushstrokes and drips, but the result of Lichtenstein's simplification that uses a Ben-Day dots background is a representation of the mechanical/industrial color printing reproduction.
Lichtenstein's painting Torpedo...Los! (1963) sold at Christie's for $5.5 million in 1989, a record sum at the time, making him one of only three living artists to have attracted such huge sums. In 2005, In the Car was sold for a then record $16.2m (£10m).
In 2010 his cartoon-style 1964 painting Ohhh...Alright..., previously owned by Steve Martin and later by Steve Wynn, was sold at a record US $42.6m (£26.7m) at a sale at Christies in New York.
Based on a 1961 William Overgard drawing for a Steve Roper cartoon story, Lichtenstein’s I Can See the Whole Room!...and There's Nobody in It! (1961) depicts a man looking through a hole in a door. It was sold by collector Courtney Sale Ross for $43 million, double its estimate, at Christie's in New York City in 2011; the seller's husband, Steve Ross had acquired it at auction in 1988 for $2.1 million. The painting measures four-foot by four-foot and is in graphite and oil.
In October 2012 his painting "Electric Cord" (1962) was returned to Leo Castelli's widow Barbara Bertozzi Castelli, after having been missing for 42 years. Castelli had sent the painting to an art restorer for cleaning in January 1970, and never got it back. He died in 1999. In 2006, the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation published an image of the painting on its holiday greeting card and asked the art community to help find it. The painting was found in a New York warehouse, after recently being displayed in Bogota, Colombia.
|Lichtenstein's Rouen Cathedral Set V, Smarthistory|
|Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective, National Gallery of Art|
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- Roy Lichtenstein: Beginning to End, February 2 - May 27, 2007 Fundación Juan March, Madrid.
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- Selz 1981, pp. 454–455: "The process of painting is the subject matter in Roy Lichtenstein's Big Painting No. 6. This painting refers to the popular conception of Abstract Expressionist works: their large size broad brushstrokes, drips. But Lichtenstein's painting is all neat and clean. Since the simplification refers to printed color reproductions, Lichtenstein paints in the benday dots of the mechanical process. The affective content of an action painting is replaced by a painted image that, paradoxically, resembles an industrial product."
- Kelly Crow (October 1, 2010), Pop Goes the Art Market: A $40 Million Lichtenstein? Wall Street Journal.
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- Long-missing Lichtenstein painting returned to NY owner
- Long-missing Roy Lichtenstein canvas found in NY
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- Roy Lichtenstein Interview with Chris Hunt Image Entertainment video, 1991
- Roy Lichtenstein Interview with Melvyn Bragg video
- Adelman, Bob (1999). Roy Lichtenstein's ABC's. Boston: Bulfinch Press. ISBN 978-0-8212-2591-2.
- Waldman, Diane (1988) [1st Pub. 1970]. Roy Lichtenstein : Drawing and Prints. Secaucus, N.J.: Wellfleet Books. ISBN 9781555213015.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Roy Lichtenstein|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Roy Lichtenstein|
- Roy Lichtenstein Foundation
- Roy Lichtenstein at the Museum of Modern Art
- Roy Lichtenstein Image Duplicator
- Deconstructing Roy Lichtenstein (sources for Lichtenstein's comic-book paintings)
- Inside Roy Lichtenstein's Studio 1990–92
- Roy Lichtenstein at Find a Grave
- Roy Lichtenstein – slideshow by The New York Times
- 1977 BMW 320i with special paintjob by Roy Lichtenstein
- Roy Lichtenstein's public artwork at Times Square-42nd Street, commissioned by MTA Arts for Transit.
- Roy Lichtenstein: Pop Art's Most Popular; His Whimsical Paintings Once Evoked the "Shock of the New"; Now They Evoke Record Prices on the Auction Block
- Roy Lichtenstein in the National Gallery of Australia's Kenneth Tyler collection
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