Pop Art? The Answer is Roy. L

“My work is really the accumulation of these different moods that I’ve had throughout my life and where they’ve taken me. I start looking back, and I think, I’ve actually created a life out of all this, out of these changes of mood.” Roy

Roy Lichtenstein (October 27, 1923 – September 29, 1997) was an American pop artist. During the 1960s, his paintings were exhibited at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York City and, along with Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, James Rosenquist, and others.

Favoring the old-fashioned comic strip as subject matter, Lichtenstein produced hard-edged, precise compositions that documented while it parodied often in a tongue-in-cheek humorous manner. His work was heavily influenced by both popular advertising and the comic book style.

“I think my work is different from comic strips- but I wouldn’t call it transformation; I don’t think that whatever is meant by it is important to art” Roy



 In 1960, he started teaching at Rutgers University where he was heavily influenced by Allan Kaprow, who was also a teacher at the university. This environment helped reignite his interest in Proto-pop imagery.


In 1961, Lichtenstein began his first pop paintings using cartoon images and techniques derived from the appearance of commercial printing. This phase would continue to 1965, and included the use of advertising imagery suggesting consumerism and homemaking. His first work to feature the large-scale use of hard-edged figures and Ben-Day dots was Look Mickey (1961, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.)


His work was harshly criticized as vulgar and empty. The title of a Life magazine article in 1964 asked, “Is He the Worst Artist in the U.S.?

His most famous image is arguably Whaam! (1963, Tate Modern, London), one of the earliest known examples of pop art, adapted a comic-book panel from a 1962 issue of DC Comics’ All-American Men of War.The painting depicts a fighter aircraft firing a rocket into an enemy plane, with a red-and-yellow explosion.



“There is a relationship between cartooning and people like Miro and Picasso which may not be understood by the cartoonist, but it definitely is related even in the early Disney.” Roy – Quoted in Robert Andrews, Dictionary of Contemporary Quotations (1996)

“Art doesn’t transform. It just plain forms.” Roy – Quoted in Robert Andrews, Dictionary of Contemporary Quotations (1996)

BOWIE: Here’s a question: Why do you feel that a romantic or emotional situation needs to be represented mechanically?

LICHTENSTEIN: Well, I think that has a lot to do with all kinds of things presented through the media in the modern day. I mean, it’s even in movies—you know, two people are about to kiss, and in reality you’ve got a guy at the camera with a cigar in his mouth, [chuckles] and there’s probably a stylist who’s just powdered their noses. The actors have to pretend that they’re amorous in this situation, [chuckles] while there are all these technical people involved. That’s an example that just comes to mind immediately.

BOWIE: Does the general public know when it’s looking at art?

LICHTENSTEIN: It’s hard to know. [laughs] I’m sure some people do and some don’t, but you get so far away from the general public in any of these fields. You know, as you compose music, you’re just off in your own world. You have no idea where reality is, so to have an idea of what people think is pretty hard.


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