Roy Lichtenstein 1923 —1997
"My work isn't about form. It's about seeing. I'm excited about seeing things, and I'm interested in the way I think other people see things."
Lichtenstein grew up under no specific artistic influence - neither at home nor at school. But, at the age of 14 he attended a painting class at Parson's School of Design every Saturday morning.
From 1940 to 1943 he studied in New York at the Art Students' League where he studied with Reginald Marsh. Then he was drafted to the US Army and served in Europe during War II. Back from the army, Lichtenstein studied at the Ohio State University from 1946 and received his M.A. in 1949. In 1951 the Carlebach Gallery, New York, organized a solo exhibition of his semi-abstract paintings of the Old West. Shortly thereafter, the artist moved to Cleveland, where he continued painting while working as an engineering draftsman to support his growing family. Like Andy Warhol he worked in the commercial graphic business for a while - making designs and decorating shop windows. From 1957 on, he taught at different universities.
Lichtenstein's first experiments with popular images go back to 1956, when he created the famous Ten Dollar Bill print. Then followed a three year period of abstract painting. "Abstract expressionism" was the dominating art movement at that time. Lichtenstein was then in his late thirties and an unknown artist.
In 1961 he began to make paintings consisting exclusively of comic-strip figures, and introduced his Benday-dot grounds, lettering, and balloons; he also started cropping images from advertisements. From 1964 and into the next decade he successively depicted stylized landscapes, consumer-product packaging, adaptations of paintings by famous artists, geometric elements from Art Deco design (in the Modern series), parodies of the Abstract Expressionists' style (in the Brushstrokes series), and explosions. They all underlined the contradictions of representing three dimensions on a flat surface.
The drastic change in Lichtenstein's career came with his first painting in the style of a comic strip. It was a painting of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. The story goes, that he painted it for his kids who had provoked him by saying that "daddy could not paint as well as the images in the comic books". So it may have been his own kids, who are responsible for the artist's move into the Olympic of art celebrities.
Lichtenstein worked a lot with stencils, thus producing rows of oversized dots that should make his paintings or prints look like a huge mass publication product. Although he prepared and executed his works painstakingly like the old masters, he wanted his works of art look like machine made. One of his peculiarities was, that he did not want his brush strokes to be seen.
From 1962 the Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, held regular exhibitions of the artist's work. Lichtenstein participated in the Venice Biennale in 1966, and was honored with solo exhibitions in 1967 and 1968 at the Pasadena Art Museum and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, respectively. The artist was the subject of a major retrospective at the Guggenheim in 1994, three years before his death on September 30, 1997.
Other than paintings and sculptures, the artist produced a number of prints for which he used different techniques: lithographs, screenprints, etchings and woodcuts. Often he combined these techniques in one print.
Lichtenstein is usually characterized as ironic, humorous and witty. He openly commented on his own works. The citations below - mostly taken from interviews - show a very sensitive, intelligent and overt personality.
In the early 1970s he explored this formal question further with his abstract Mirrors and Entablatures series. From 1974 through the 1980s he probed another long-standing issue: the concept of artistic style. All his series of works played with the characteristics of well-known 20th-century art movements. Lichtenstein continued to question the role of style in consumer culture in his 1990s series Interiors, which included images of his own works as decorative elements. In his attempt to fully grasp and expose how the forms, materials, and methods of production have shaped the images of Western society, the artist also explored other mediums such as polychromatic ceramic, aluminum, brass, and serigraphs.
An important source for modern and contemporary American & European Art in East Hampton, New York & worldwide, Janet Lehr Fine Arts' spectacular wide-ranging inventory consists of unique paintings, drawings, large & small scale sculpture, monotypes, prints and photographs by Ansel Adams, Milton Avery, Richard Avedon, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Romare Bearden, Fernando Botero, Cartier-Bresson, Marc Chagall, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Willem De Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn, Thomas Eakins, Childe Hassam, David Hockney, Winslow Homer, Wolf Kahn, Jeff Koons, Fernand Leger, Roy Lichtenstein, Man Ray, Thomas Moran, Henry Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, Mark Rothko, Cindy Sherman, Charles Sheeler, Bert Stern, Alfred Stieglitz, Andy Warhol, Carleton E Watkins, Tom Wesselmann and Andrew Wyeth.
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View synoptic biography below.
Blue Floor from Interior Series
51.7 x 77.5 inches
1940 Studied at the Art Students League, New York
1946 B.F.A. Ohio State University
1949 M.F.A. Ohio State University
1962 First paintings using dramatically isolated images selected from serial war and romance comics and generic products, depicted in primary colours and Ben Day dots
1995 National Medal of Arts
Solo exhibitions (selection)
2004 Madrid, Reina Sofía, Roy Lichtenstein
London, Hayward Gallery, Roy Lichtenstein
2003 Humlebæk/Copenhagen, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Roy Lichtenstein
Vienna, BA-CA Kunstforum, Roy Lichtenstein
New York, Metropolitan Museum,
2002 Helsinki, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art
Frankfurt, Museum für Moderne Kunst
Munich, Galerie Terminus
2001 New York, Mitchell-Innes & Nash
New York, Gagosian Gallery - Madison
New York, Leo Castelli
2000 New York, Paula Cooper Gallery
1999 Zurich, Lawrence Rubin
Miami, Bass Museum of Art
San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
1998 Sydney, Museum of Contemporary Art
1993 Lüdenscheid, Galerie Friebe
1987 Houston, Contemporary Arts Museum
Frankfurt, Schirn Kunsthalle
1951 New York
Group exhibitions (selection)
2004 Neuss, Langen Foundation Hombroich,
Bilder der Stille - Eröffnungsausstellung
Dresden, Kunst Haus, International Exhibition of Modern Art and the Museum of Modern Art
Salzburg, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, 20 years
Barcelona, Centre de Cultura Contemporània,
Vienna, Albertina, Pop Art & Minimalismus
Berlin, Neue Nationalgalerie, Das MoMA in Berlin
Stockholm, Moderna Museet, The Pontus Hultén Collection
Columbus, OH, Wexner Center for the Arts,
Splat Boom Pow!
2003 Dusseldorf, NRW-Forum, AUTO-NOM
Graz, Neue Galerie, SUPPORT 1 - Die Neue Galerie als Sammlung
Hamburg, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Gunter Sachs
Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art,
Mid-Century Masterworks from the Collection
Dusseldorf, museum kunst palast,
The Power of Pop
Aachen, Ludwig Forum, aufgeschraubt und abgestaubt
Bilbao, Guggenheim, Jasper Johns to
2002 Liverpool, Tate, Shopping
1968, 1977 Kassel, Documenta 4, 6
Roy Lichtenstein works in Museum Collections (USA)
Addison Gallery of American Art; Akron Art Museum; Allen Memorial Art Museum; Arizona State University Art Museum; Arnot Art Museum; Art Institute of Chicago; Ball State University Museum of Art; Boca Raton Museum of Art; Brandywine River Museum; Butler Institute of American Art; Cantor Arts Center, Stanford; Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh/Carnegie ; Cheekwood Museum of Art & Botanical Garden; Chrysler Museum of Art; Cincinnati Art Museum; Colby College Museum of Art; Colorado Historical Society; Crocker Art Museum; Dallas Museum of Art; Delaware Art Museum; Dennos Museum Center; Denver Art Museum; Everson Museum Of Art; Flint Institute of Arts; Frederick R Weisman Art Museum; George Walter Vincent Smith Museum; Georgia Museum of Art; Herbert F Johnson Museum of Art; High Museum of Art; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; Hunter Museum of American Art; Indianapolis Museum of Art; Jack S Blanton Museum of Art; Joslyn Art Museum; LaSalle University Art Museum; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Lowe Art Museum; Lyman Allyn Museum; Maier Museum of Art; Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum; Mead Art Museum; Memorial Art Gallery; Memphis Brooks Museum of Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Michael C Carlos Museum; Michelson Museum of Art; Middlebury College Museum of Art; Minneapolis Institute of Arts; Minnesota Museum of American Art; Mobile Museum of Art; Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts; Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute; Musees Nationaux Paris; Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Missouri-Columbia; Museum of Art at Brigham Young University; Museum of Fine Arts Boston; Museum of New Mexico; Muskegon Museum of Art; Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas; National Academy of Design ; National Gallery of Art; Neuberger Museum of Art; New Jersey State Museum; New Orleans Museum of Art; Oakland Museum of California; Oklahoma City Museum of Art; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Phoenix Art Museum; Portland Art Museum; Reading Public Museum; Rhode Island School of Design-Museum of Art; Museum of the 20th Century; Robert Hull Fleming Museum; Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, Scripps College; Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis; San Diego Museum of Art; Santa Barbara Museum of Art; Sheldon Museum of Art; Swope Art Museum; Smithsonian American Art Museum; Solomon R Guggenheim Museum; Tacoma Art Museum; Telfair Museum of Art; The Arkell Museum at Canajoharie; The Art Museum, Princeton University; The Brooklyn Museum of Art; The Columbus Museum of Art-Ohio; The Columbus Museum-Georgia; The Dayton Art Institute;The Detroit Institute of Arts; The Hickory Museum of Art; The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art; The John H. Vanderpoel Art Association; The Montclair Art Museum; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art; The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; The Newark Museum; The Parrish Art Museum; The Phillips Collection; The Toledo Museum of Art; The University of Arizona Museum of Art; The University of Michigan Museum of Art; The WashingtonCounty Museum of Fine Arts; University of Wyoming Art Museum; USC Fisher Gallery; Wallrof Richartz Museum; Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art; Whitney Museum of American Art; Worcester Art Museum; and Yale University Art Gallery .
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