About the Artist, Roy Lichtenstein

Article excerpt

Prior to Roy Lichtenstein's 1962 exhibit in New York City, Abstract Expressionism had been the prevailing art movement in the United States for well over a decade.

Jackson Pollock's lyrical drip paintings, Mark Rothko's sumptuous and hypnotic fields of color, and Willem de Kooning's aggressive slashes couldn't be more unlike Lichtenstein's paintings, which hung on the walls of Manhattan's Leo Castelli Gallery.

This was an altogether new visual language; the subject matter appropriated from comic books and cartoon characters that "seemed bent on deflating Abstract Expressionism, with its soul-searching claims and its emphasis on the artist's touch" (source: New York Times, September 30, 1997).

Or, as American artist Larry Rivers stated, "Roy got the hand out of art, and put the brain in." Here was a young artist, a native New Yorker, debunking all that was sacred about abstraction with imagery that borrowed from mass-market, commercial art.

By employing recognizable images from popular culture, such as Mickey Mouse (Look Mickey, 1961), and by incorporating the heavy black outlines, Benday dots and saturated primary colors of the funny papers, Roy Lichtenstein helped usher in a new visual vernacular perfectly suited to America's rapidly growing consumer culture.

Roy Lichtenstein was born and raised on Manhattan's Upper West Side, the son of a wealthy real estate executive. As a teenager, he attended Parsons School of Design and took a class at the Art Students League taught by Reginald Marsh.

In 1943, he served in the military, then attended Ohio State University (OSU), where he taught art from 1946-1951. He earned a master's degree from OSU, but didn't receive a tenured position, so he moved to Cleveland, supported himself as a designer and window dresser. …