Roy Lichtenstein is the most famous artists in the history of Pop Art, and was noted for his contributions to this art genre, particularly with his graphic works known for their bright and catchy
colors and images.
Roy Lichtenstein was born and raised in New York City on October 27, 1923. His parents were Milton and Beatrice Werner Lichtenstein. Throughout his childhood, he spent most of his time in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. As a young boy, he developed an interest in two things - comic books and science.
During his teenage years, he became more passionate in art. In 1937, he took his fascination in art to a higher level when he decided to take up watercolor classes at the Parsons School of Design. Aside from this course, he also attended the Art Students League to take classes. It was in this school that he studied with Reginald Marsh, a famous realist painter. Lichtenstein's early artistic idols were Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer and Picasso, and he often said that Guernica, then on long-term loan to the Museum of Modern Art, was his favorite painting.
After he graduated from Manhattan's Franklin School for Boys, he enrolled at the Ohio State University to pursue his college education. However, he was forced to leave school during the World War II. Lichtenstein was drafted for the war, and he was sent to Europe, in 1943.
By 1946, his service during the time of war ended, and he came back to the Ohio State to continue his college education in fine arts. He also took up his master's degree in the said course, and he eventually took a teaching job at the Ohio State before he transferred to Cleveland. Here, he took up multiple jobs as a commercial art instructor, industrial engineer and window display designer.
With Lichtenstein's exceptional talent, he started presenting his artworks during exhibits in various art galleries located in New York, Cleveland and other cities in the nation. He also decided to explore other themes that were featured in his masterpieces such as American folklore and history, as well as mythology subjects. These subjects were often found in his earlier works.
In the 1960s, Lichtenstein began exploring a wide range of subjects and painting techniques. He did this alongside his teaching career at the Rutgers University. During these years, his works featured his own commentary on the growing popularity of American pop culture and his relations to the works of renowned abstract expressionists at that time.
However, Lichtenstein had a different style from these other artists during his time. Instead of focusing on the more emotional aspect of life in his works, he was more interested in making use of stencils and rather impersonal means of presenting his ideas . This style was often used in commercial art.
In 1963, he released his renowned artwork, which was entitled "Whaam!". This masterpiece utilized a comic book panel, which was greatly inspired by the All American Men of War from DC Comics' 1962 issue. Among his other works included his ads for household and food items that featured Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse. He also created an impressive mural with an image of laughing woman as its focal point. This large-scale mural was made in 1964 for the New York State Pavilion, during the World's Fair.
It is also worth noting that aside from his bright artworks, Lichtenstein was noted for his use of deadpan humor including his sly manner of creating his artworks from a range of mass-produced images. By the mid 1960s, Lichtenstein became known as the primary figure in Pop Art. Several other artists who joined him in this prestigious title were Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist and Andy Warhol.
Various art collectors and dealers recognized the remarkable appeal of Lichtenstein's works. In fact, his works were often featured by Leo Castelli in his art gallery for three decades. As with other artworks in the pop art genre, there were often debates in terms of the consumerism, originality and the very thin line that separated entertainment and fine art. Nevertheless, Lichtenstein maintained is excellent reputation as an accomplished artists in his own right.
Although Lichtenstein was made famous for his artworks that featured comic books as his sources, he eventually stopped this technique during the latter parts of the 1960s. During the 1970s, the artist became more drawn towards creating artworks that had references to various artists in the 20th century. These artists whom he referred most of his masterpieces to included Salvador Dali,Claude Monet, Picasso and Vincent van Gogh.
By the early 1980s to the late 1990s, Lichtenstein created masterpieces that presented interiors of modern houses, mirror reflections and brushstrokes. However, he always made use of his cartoon-like style throughout all of his masterpieces. The infamous artists also considered working on various sculptures that were equally impressive as his paintings.
One of the finest works by Lichtenstein was his sculpture that he called "Brushstrokes in Flight". This famous masterpiece measured 25 feet in height, and it was completed as among the artist's significant large scale commission. In addition to this sculpture, he also created a 5-storey mural intended for New York's Equitable Tower.
Even up to the latter part of his life, Lichtenstein frequently spent several hours in the studio. Because of his impressive works, these were recognized and acquired by numerous museums throughout the world. He was also given various awards such as the 1995 National Medal of Arts for his remarkable works.
Lichtenstein suffered from pneumonia and numerous complications from this ailment. He was sent to a hospital in Manhattan, where he was diagnosed of a fatal illness due to pneumonia complications. Thus, on September 29, 1997, the famous artist passed away and left his second wife Dorothy Herzka and children named David and Mitchell.
Even after his death, his works continued to live in the hearts and minds of millions of art enthusiasts throughout the world. Being the leader of the Pop Art movement, he inspired numerous artists who adopted his techniques and tried to explore their own means of presenting pop art-inspired works in their unique styles.