Roy Fox Lichtenstein was an American pop artist whose works in the comic strip style depict the shallowness of current American culture. He strangely combined mass-produced emotions through consumerism into refined references to art history and great works by painters from bygone ages, expressing the frivolity of today’s era against the stark contrasted backdrop of sophisticated aesthetic surroundings. Lichtenstein is one of the two most recognizable figures in pop art, owing to his work’s peculiar combination of sardonic wit and meticulous skill. He was influenced throughout his artistic career by painters such as Allan Kaprow, Russ Heath, Edgar Degas, and Irv Novick. After earning a master’s degree in fine arts from Ohio University, he taught painting at Rutgers University for a few years. He had a brief history of serving as a draftsman in the army during World War II, an experience he frequently depicted in his artwork. He labored diligently, creating masterpieces of revolutionary paintings and sculptures, sometimes laboring in his studio for ten hours straight, although he thought his creative output insignificant in the world of ‘art.’
Childhood & Adolescence
Roy Lichtenstein was born in New York City on October 27, 1923, to Milton and Beatrice Werner Lichtenstein. His father was a successful developer of real estate. As a result of his rich background, he grew up on the Upper West Side.He attended and completed his secondary school at New York’s Franklin School for Boys. During this time period, he developed a growing interest in art, design, and music, particularly jazz.
He attended seminars at the Art Students League while in high school, where he studied with American realist painter Reginald Marsh in 1940. He was admitted to The Ohio State University, but his studies were cut short due to World War II.
Career of Roy
Lichtenstein abandoned his plans to take studio studies and a degree in fine arts in 1943 to serve his nation in World War II. He had schooling in languages, engineering, and pilot training, but primarily worked as an orderly and draftsman.In 1946, he returned to Ohio to study under the direction of one of his former professors, Hoyt L.
Sherman. He earned a Master of Fine Arts degree shortly thereafter and began teaching painting at the university.
In 1951, he had his first solo show at New York’s Carlebach Gallery. He was gradually gaining reputation on the circuit and relocated to Cleveland the following year, where he worked in a number of occupations, including that of a draftsman.
After bouncing between Cubism and Expressionism and eventually choosing the Abstract Expressionism style, Lichtenstein began teaching at the State University of New York at Oswego in 1958. He began using cartoon figures such as Mickey Mouse into his abstract paintings.Between 1961 and 1964, while teaching at Rutgers University, Lichtenstein produced an abundance of pop paintings, infusing them with cartoon characters and everyday objects. ‘Look Mickey,’ his first large-scale piece, was also painted during this time period.
During this time period, Leo Castelli, an Italian-American art dealer based in New York, began exhibiting Lichtenstein’s work in his gallery. Lichtenstein opened his first solo exhibition at the Castelli gallery, where the entire collection was sold before to the exhibition’s opening.He resigned from his employment at Rutgers University in 1963 to devote more time to his paintings. ‘Drowning Girl,’ Lichtenstein’s most iconic painting, was created during this time period. It is now on view at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
He painted ‘Whaam!’ at this time, which was displayed in London’s Tate Modern. Now Lichtenstein was well-known throughout the world for his eccentric adaptations of comic-book characters and themes in his paintings.Around 1964-1965, he began experimenting with art and experimented with sculpting in order to portray the abstract creativity he had been attempting to convey through his paintings. During this time period, ‘Head of Girl’ and ‘Head with Red Shadow’ were made.
In 1966, Lichtenstein abandoned his comic-strip approach and began working on his ‘Modern Paintings’ series. He created nearly 60 works on the subject, employing his signature Ben-Day dots, geometric forms, and lines.He created ‘Composition and Leda and the Swan’ in 1969 for Gunter Sachs’ Pop Art bedroom suite at St. Moritz’s Palace Hotel. Sachs was a photographer, author, businessman, and art collector from Germany.In 1970, he was Zcommissioned by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to make a film, which he co-directed with Universal Film Studios.
It was the only time he worked with the medium artistically.Following this, he relocated to Southampton, Long Island, where he lived in seclusion. He abandoned his prior technique and began painting a series of ‘Mirrors’ paintings. He also began experimenting with entablatures.He was motivated by German Expressionist prints and illustrated books in 1978 and created works such as ‘Pow Wow (1979)’, ‘Amerind Landscape (1979)’, ‘The White Tree (1980)’, ‘Dr. Waldmann (1980)’, and ‘Amerind Figure (1981)’.
Between the late 1970s and the mid-1980s, Lichtenstein completed commissioned work for public spaces, including ‘Lamp (1978), ‘Mermaid (1979), ‘Brushstrokes in Flight (1984), and ‘Mural with Blue Brushstroke (1984-85)’.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, he created ‘Still Life’ paintings, sculptures, and drawings using the most classic motifs and subjects, such as fruits, flowers, and vases. Additionally, he created the ‘Reflection’ series, which incorporated patterns from his past work.
He was influenced in the 1990s by the monochromatic works of Edgar Degas, the renowned French artist, after coming upon them at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. During this time period, he created the ‘Landscapes in the Chinese Style.’
His Significant Works
Lichtenstein established himself as an international phenomenon in the early 1960s with works such as ‘Look Mickey (1961), ‘Whaam! (1963), and ‘Drowning Girl (1963). This was a period during which he experimented with incorporating cartoon figures into his abstract works.
Awards and Accomplishments
Throughout the 1990s, Lichtenstein was lauded throughout the world for the revolution he sparked in the field of abstract painting. He has received numerous awards, including the Brandeis University Creative Arts Awards in Painting (1991), the Kyoto Prize, Japan (1995), and others.
Personal History and Legacies
From 1949 to 1958, he was married to Isabel Wilson. They shared two boys, David Hoyt Lichtenstein, who is now a songwriter, and Mitchell Lichtenstein, a well-known actor, writer, producer, and director.From 1968 until his death, Lichtenstein was married to Dorothy Herzka’ and the couple lived in a property near the beach in Southampton, New York. He died in 1997 at the New York University Medical Center of pneumonia.
Estimated Net Worth
Roy is one of the wealthiest and most popular pop artists. Roy Lichtenstein’s net worth is estimated to be at $1.5 million, based on our analysis of Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider. He spent his adolescence in New York City, witnessing jazz events at Harlem’s Apollo Theater.
Lichtenstein is reported to have never given credit to any artist whose work he incorporated or was influenced by.