- NAME: Roy Lichtenstein
- OCCUPATION: Illustrator, Painter
- BIRTH DATE: October 27, 1923
- DEATH DATE: September 29, 1997
- EDUCATION: The Ohio State University, Franklin School for Boys (now Dwight School), Parsons School of Design, Art Students League
- PLACE OF BIRTH: New York, New York
- PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York
- Full Name: Roy Fox Lichtenstein
- AKA: Roy Lichtenstein
Best Known For
Roy Lichtenstein was an American pop artist best known for his boldly-colored parodies of comic strips and advertisements.
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American artist Roy Lichtenstein was born in New York City on October 27, 1923, and grew up on Manhattan's Upper West Side. In the 1960s, Lichtenstein became a leading figure of the new Pop Art movement. Inspired by advertisements and comic strips, Lichtenstein's bright, graphic works parodied American popular culture and the art world itself. He died in New York City on September 29, 1997.
"When I have used cartoon images, I've used them ironically, to raise the question: Why would anyone want to do this with modern painting?"
"Art doesn't transform. It just plain forms."
"I don't have big anxieties. I wish I did. I'd be much more interesting."
Roy Fox Lichtenstein was born on October 27, 1923, in New York City, the son of Milton Lichtenstein, a successful real estate developer, and Beatrice Werner Lichtenstein. As a boy growing up on Manhattan's Upper West Side, Lichtenstein had a passion for both science and comic books. In his teens, he became interested in art. He took watercolor classes at Parsons School of Design in 1937, and he took classes at the Art Students League in 1940, studying with American realist painter Reginald Marsh.
Following his graduation from the Franklin School for Boys in Manhattan in 1940, Lichtenstein attended The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. His college studies were interrupted in 1943, when he was drafted and sent to Europe for World War II.
After his wartime service, Lichtenstein returned to Ohio State in 1946 to finish his undergraduate degree and master's degree—both in fine arts. He briefly taught at Ohio State before moving to Cleveland and working as a window-display designer for a department store, an industrial designer and a commercial-art instructor.
In the late 1940s, Lichtenstein exhibited his art in galleries nationwide, including in Cleveland and New York City. In the 1950s, he often took his artistic subjects from mythology and from American history and folklore, and he painted those subjects in styles that paid homage to earlier art, from the 18th century through modernism.
Lichtenstein began experimenting with different subjects and methods in the early 1960s, while he was teaching at Rutgers University. His newer work was both a commentary on American popular culture and a reaction to the recent success of Abstract Expressionist painting by artists like Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Instead of painting abstract, often subject-less canvases as Pollock and others had had done, Lichtenstein took his imagery directly from comic books and advertising. Rather than emphasize his painting process and his own inner, emotional life in his art, he mimicked his borrowed sources right down to an impersonal-looking stencil process that imitated the mechanical printing used for commercial art.
Lichtenstein's best-known work from this period is "Whaam!," which he painted in 1963, using a comic book panel from a 1962 issue of DC Comics' All-American Men of War as his inspiration. Other works of the 1960s featured cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and advertisements for food and household products. He created a large-scale mural of a laughing young woman (adapted from an image in a comic book) for the New York State Pavilion of the 1964 World's Fair in New York City.
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Pop art, which started in the mid 1950s in the U.K. and just a few years later in the U.S., is the use of popular ad and news imagery, usually in an ironic and/or kitschy sort of way. Whether conceptual or experiential, pop art is art for the masses...and thanks to Andy Warhol, we'll never look at Campbell's Soup cans the same way again.
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