Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein
27.10.1923 (New York) - 29.09.1997 (New York)

Country: New York
Nationality: American


Roy Lichtenstein (American, 1923 - 1997) is an American painter, sculptor, printmaker and decorative artist. His paintings based on the motifs and procedures of comic strips and advertisements made him one of the central figures of American Pop Art. 

Drawing on the biomorphic abstraction and heroic themes of Abstract Expressionism, Lichtenstein painted such subjects as anthropomorphic plants, beautiful women in gardens, and wild animals, as well as romantic medieval subjects of knights and battles. All this was painted with a subtle tongue-in-cheek irony, and stylistically oriented towards such European modernists as Picasso, Klee, Kandinsky and Miró. 

In 1961 Lichtenstein made the final break with his early work. Whereas he had previously translated his source materials into personal variants of Cubism or Constructivism, he now appropriated from comic strips not only the subject-matter but also the style. In these Pop paintings he favoured highly simplified colour schemes and procedures that mimicked commercial printing techniques, representing tonal variations with patterns of coloured circles that imitated the half-tone screens of Ben Day dots used in newspaper printing, and surrounding these with black outlines similar to those used to conceal imperfections in cheap newsprint. 

He applied these techniques to paintings based on small advertisements, as in Spray; war comics, for example Whaam! or As I Opened Fire; and comic strips on themes of love and romance, such as Hopeless or We Rose up Slowly.

By enlarging his source material, Lichtenstein emphasized the banality and emptiness of his motifs as an equivalent to the impersonal, mechanized style of drawing. This led to speculation as to his intended criticism of modern industrial America. The formalization and irony could be taken to support such a theory, but Lichtenstein ultimately would appear to accept the environment as revealed by his reference material as part of American capitalist industrial culture.

In 1962 Lichtenstein made his first Pop prints, such as Foot and Hand, in which the association with comic books was strengthened by his choice of a technique generally used for commercial printing: offset lithography. In 1964 he made the first of his screen prints, Sandwich and Soda, exploiting the inherent impersonality of the medium still further in works printed on synthetic materials, as in Seascape. The subtelty and technical inventiveness of his work as a printmaker, combined with his exquisite draughtsmanship, contributed greatly to his growing reputation.

Lichtenstein also periodically produced groups of sculptures. Some of the earliest of these were wood sculptures from pieces of furniture in the early 1950s; later followed glazed ceramics, including female busts such as Blonde and a 1965 series, Ceramic Sculptures, which consisted of stacked cups and saucer. These were followed by the Modern Sculpture series of 1967–8 which made reference to motifs from Art Deco architecture. In his painted bronzes of the mid-1970s Lichtenstein made punning use of linear devices from his paintings to produce three-dimensional but flat-looking representations of familiar objects.  


Karen Bandlow: Roy Lichtenstein und Ostasien, Imhof, Petersberg, 2007.

M.L. Corlett en R.E. Fine: The Prints of Roy Lichtenstein Hudson Hills Press, New York2002.

D. Cameron, et al.: Pop Art. Prestel, München 1992. 

Janis Hendrickson: Roy Lichtenstein. Die Ironie des Banalen Taschen, Keulen 1988, 1994


Selected Solo Exhibitions

2016 TEFAF Maastricht, SmithDavidson Gallery, Maastricht, The Netherlands

2015 Artist Rooms: Roy Lichtenstein, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Scotland

2014 Roy Lichtenstein: Opera Prima, Galleria Civica d'arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin, Italy

2014 Roy Lichtenstein: Nudes and Interiors, FLAG Art Foundation, New York, USA

2013 Lichtenstein: A Retrospective, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France

2013 Roy Lichtenstein Sculptor, Fondazione Emilio e Annabianca Vedova, Venice, Italy

2013 Lichtenstein: A Retrospective, Tate Modern, London, UK

2012 Lichtenstein: A Retrospective, The National Gallery, Washington DC, USA

2012 'Lichtenstein, Klee and Lowry', Tate Galleries, London, UK

2012 The Small Utopia: Ars Multiplicata, Fondazione Prada, Venice, Italy

2012 Lichtenstein: A Retrospective, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, USA

2012 Three Landscapes - A Film Installation by Roy Lichtenstein, Whitney Museum of American Art, USA

2011 Roy Lichtenstein: Black and White Drawings, 1961-1968, The Albertina, Vienna, Austria

2010 Roy Lichtenstein: Kunst als Motiv, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany


The works by Roy Lichtenstein are to be found in major museums and important private collections all over the world.

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Brushstroke Still Life with Lamp

Nude with Blue Hair

Two Nudes (C. 285), State 1

Water Lilies with Cloud

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