Roy Lichtenstein Lasting Influence

Roy Lichtenstein was one of the most influential and innovative artists of the second half of the twentieth century. He is preeminently identified with Pop Art and his first fully achieved paintings were based on imagery from comic strips and advertisements and rendered in a style mimicking the crude printing processes of newspaper reproduction. After his initial triumph in the early 1960s, he went on to create an oeuvre of more than 5,000 paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, murals and other objects celebrated for their wit and invention.
Roy Fox Lichtenstein was born on October 27, 1923, in New York City. Roy showed artistic and musical ability early on. He studied painting and drawing and his early artistic idols were Rembrandt, Daumier and Picasso.
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Lichtenstein began working in series and his iconography was drawn from printed images.
Well before finding his signature mode of expression in 1961, Lichtenstein called attention to the artifice of conventions and taste that permeated art and society. What others dismissed as trivial fascinated him as classic and idealized—in his words, “a purely American mythological subject matter.”ii
Lichtenstein appropriated the Benday dots, the minute mechanical patterning used in commercial engraving, to convey texture and gradations of color—a stylistic language synonymous with his subject matter. The dots became a trademark device forever identified with Lichtenstein and Pop Art.
Leo Castelli chose to represent Lichtenstein, and the first exhibition of the comic-book paintings was held at the gallery from February 10 to March 3, 1962. The show sold out and made Lichtenstein notorious. By the time of Lichtenstein’s second solo exhibition at Castelli in September 1963, his work had been showcased in museums and galleries around the country. He was usually grouped with Johns, Rauschenberg, Warhol, Rosenquist, Segal, Jim Dine, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Indiana and Tom Wesselmann.
Lichtenstein became a prolific printmaker and expanded into sculpture, employing a host of industrial or “non-art” materials.
The late 1960s also saw Lichtenstein’s first museum surveys: in 1967 the Pasadena Art Museum initiated a traveling retrospective, in 1968 the Stedelijk Musem in Amsterdam presented his first European retrospective, and in 1969 he had his first New York retrospective, at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
In the late 1960s his work became less narrative and more abstract. He began to explore and deconstruct the notion of brushstrokes. Brushstrokes are conventionally conceived as vehicles of expression, but Lichtenstein made them into a subject.
The search for new forms and sources was even more emphatic after 1970
Another entire panoply of works produced during the 1970s were complex encounters with Cubism, Futurism, Purism, Surrealism and Expressionism. Lichtenstein expanded his palette beyond red, blue, yellow, black, white and green, and invented and combined forms. He was not merely isolating found images, but juxtaposing, overlapping, fragmenting and recomposing them.
In the early 1980s Lichtenstein was also at the apex of a busy mural career. In the 1960s and 1970s, he had completed four murals; between 1983 and 1990, he created five.
In August 1997, Lichtenstein fell ill with pneumonia. He died unexpectedly of complications from the disease on September 29, 1997, at the age of 73, in New York City.

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