ROY LICHTENSTEIN Biography - Other artists & entretainers


Biography » other artists entretainers » roy lichtenstein


Name: Roy Lichtenstein                                                             
Born: 27 October 1923 Manhattan, New York City                                     
Died: 29 September 1997 Manhattan, New York City                                   
Roy Lichtenstein (27 October 1923 - 29 September 1997) was a prominent American     
pop artist, his work heavily influenced by both popular advertising and the         
comic book style. He himself described Pop art as, "not 'American' painting but     
actually industrial painting".                                                     
Roy Lichtenstein was born on 27 October 1923 into an upper-middle-class New York   
City family, and attended public school until the age of 12. He then enrolled       
at Manhattan's Franklin School for Boys, remaining there for his secondary         
education. Art was not included in the school's curriculum; Lichtenstein           
first became interested in art and design as a hobby. He was an avid jazz fan,     
often attending concerts at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. After graduation         
from Franklin, 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 World War II and after         
between 1943 and 1946. Lichtenstein returned home to visit his dying father         
and was discharged from the army under the Servicemen's Readjustment Act (USA).     
Returning 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 M.F.A. degree from the Ohio     
State University and in the same year married Isabel Wilson (divorced 1965).       
In 1951 he had his first one-man exhibition at Carlebach Gallery in New York.       
He moved to Cleveland in the same year, where he remained for six years,           
although frequently traveling back to New York. Undertaking 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 was born. He then had his second son, Mitchell             
Lichtenstein 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, a late convert to this style of painting.                     
Lichtenstein began teaching in Upstate, New York at State University of New York   
at Oswego in 1958. However, the brutal upstate winters were taking a toll on him   
and his wife.                                                                       
In 1960, he started teaching at Rutgers University where he was heavily             
influenced by Allan Kaprow, also a teacher at the University. This environment     
helped to 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 Benday     
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 or cartoons. In 1961 Leo Castelli started displaying Lichtenstein's       
work at his gallery in New York, and he had his first one man show at the           
gallery in 1962; the entire collection was bought by influential collectors of     
the time before the show even opened. Interestingly Castelli rejected the           
work of one of Lichtenstien's contemporaries, Andy Warhol. In September 1963 he     
took a leave of absence from his teaching position at Douglass College at           
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, Museum of Modern Art, New York). Also featuring thick outlines,         
bold colors and Benday Dots to represent certain colors, as if created by           
photographic reproduction. Lichtenstein would say of his own work: 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. More       
often than not they were making no attempt to be positive. 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".                   
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 onomatopoetic 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).                                                           
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."                     
In 1967 his first museum retrospective exhibition was held at the Pasadena Art     
Museum in California. Also in this year his first solo exhibition in Europe was     
held at museums in Amsterdam, London, Bern and Hannover. He married his             
second wife, Dorothy Herzka in 1968.                                               
In the 1970s and 1980s, his work began to loosen and expand on what he had done     
before. 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).                         
In addition to paintings, he also made sculptures in metal and plastic including   
some notable public sculptures such as Lamp in St. Mary's, Georgia in 1978, and     
over 300 prints, mostly in screenprinting.                                         
His painting Torpedo...Los! 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 1996 the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC became the largest single     
repository of the artist's work when he donated 154 prints and 2 books. In total   
there are some 4,500 works thought to be in circulation.                           
He died of pneumonia in 1997 at New York University Medical Center.                 
He was survived by his second wife Dorothy and by his sons, David and Mitchell,     
from his first marriage. The DreamWorks Records logo was his last completed