Pop Art looks out into the world. It doesn’t look like a painting of something, it looks like the thing itself.
Roy Fox Lichtenstein’s (1923–1997) high-impact, iconic paintings have become synonymous with Pop art—a movement he helped originate—and his merging of mechanical reproduction and hand drawing has become central to the critical understanding of the movement.
Born in New York, Lichtenstein developed an interest in drawing, science, and jazz music at a young age. He attended Ohio State University (1940–42), before being drafted into the Army (1943–45). Supported by the G.I. Bill following the war, Lichtenstein resumed his art studies at the School of Fine and Applied Arts at Ohio State and graduated with an MFA in 1949. He stayed in Ohio for the next eight years, working first as a teacher and later as an industrial draftsman and furniture designer, among other part-time roles. Lichtenstein then accepted an assistant professorship in industrial design at the State University of New York, Oswego, which led to a teaching position at Douglass College at Rutgers University, New Jersey.
In 1961 Lichtenstein painted one of his first Pop paintings, Look Mickey. This work, in its use of cartoon characters and deliberate imitation of the Ben-Day dot commercial printing process, marked a major turning point in his career. Lichtenstein had his first solo show with Leo Castelli in early 1962—which sold out before the opening—and another in 1963. After this commercial success with Castelli, he resigned from Rutgers in 1964 and moved to back New York to concentrate exclusively on his art. Into the next decade, he depicted stylized landscapes, consumer-product packaging, adaptations of paintings by famous artists, geometric elements from Art Deco design, parodies of Abstract Expressionism, and war scenes and explosions. Despite their immense variation in subject matter, all of these works underlined the contradictions of representing three dimensions on a flat surface.
The late 1960s saw Lichtenstein’s first museum surveys: in 1967 the Pasadena Art Museum initiated a traveling retrospective, in 1968 the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, presented his first European retrospective, and in 1969 he had his first New York retrospective, at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. He began living in Southampton, New York, in 1968, and in 1984 he acquired a studio loft in Manhattan; thereafter he would split his time between Southampton and Manhattan.
In the early 1970s Lichtenstein explored formal questions further with his abstract Mirrors (1969–79) and Entablatures (1970–76) series. From 1974 into the 1980s he probed another long-standing interest: the concept of artistic style. He produced paintings that reinterpreted the forms and techniques of classical architecture, Cubism, Futurism, Surrealism, and more. Lichtenstein continued to question the role of style, this time in consumer culture, in his 1990s series Interiors (1990–97), which included images of his own works as decorative elements in domestic settings. In his attempt to fully grasp and expose how the forms, materials, and methods of production had shaped the images of Western visual culture, Lichtenstein also explored other mediums such as polychromatic ceramic, aluminum, brass, and serigraphy. He experimented with printmaking as early as the late 1940s and completed several large-scale public sculptures, as well as a number of major murals.
Lichtenstein continued to refine his technique and expand his subject matter in his later work, turning to such unexpected themes as the painterly gesture, the female nude, and Chinese landscape painting. In 1995 he was awarded the National Medal of Arts in recognition of his contributions to American art.
Landscapes in the Chinese Style
March 1–April 7, 2012
555 West 24th Street, New York
The Art History of Presidential Campaign Posters
Against the backdrop of the 2020 US presidential election, historian Hal Wert takes us through the artistic and political evolution of American campaign posters, from their origin in 1844 to the present. In an interview with Quarterly editor Gillian Jakab, Wert highlights an array of landmark posters and the artists who made them.
Dorothy Lichtenstein sits down with Derek Blasberg to discuss the changes underway at the Lichtenstein Foundation, life in the 1960s, and what brought her to—and kept her in—the Hamptons.
Gagosian Quarterly Fall 2019
The Fall 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring a detail from Sinking (2019) by Nathaniel Mary Quinn on its cover.
Visions of the Self: Jenny Saville on Rembrandt
Jenny Saville reveals the process behind her new self-portrait, painted in response to Rembrandt’s masterpiece Self-Portrait with Two Circles.
Roy Lichtenstein: 1961 to 1965
Gillian Pistell examines Roy Lichtenstein’s aesthetic developments in the years 1961 to 1965.
Gagosian Quarterly Winter 2018
The Winter 2018 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available. Our cover this issue comes from High Times, a new body of work by Richard Prince.
A 1964 publication by the Chinese-American artist and poet Walasse Ting and Abstract Expressionist painter Sam Francis.
Diana Widmaier Picasso, curator of the exhibition Desire, reflects on the history of eroticism in art.
Greene Street Mural
Jack Cowart, Executive Director of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, and Rob McKeever, a former assistant to Lichtenstein, recall the making of the original Greene Street Mural.
Behind the Art
Time-lapse: Greene Street Mural
More than thirty years after its creation, Gagosian presents a full-scale painted replica of the original Greene Street Mural by Roy Lichtenstein, based on documentation from the artist’s studio and produced by sign painters under the supervision of his former studio assistant.
Artists for Biden
October 2–8, 2020
Artists for Biden is an online-only sale of works by leading contemporary artists to support the Biden Victory Fund—a joint fundraising committee authorized by Biden for President, the Democratic National Committee, and forty-seven state Democratic parties. All proceeds from the sale will provide resources needed to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and support other Democratic candidates across the country in the lead up to Election Day. Work by Cecily Brown, Michael Heizer, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Brice Marden, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, Cindy Sherman, Sarah Sze, Stanley Whitney, and Christopher Wool will be available. To register for early access on October 1, visit secure.joebiden.com.
Sarah Sze, Afterimage, Silver, 2018 © Sarah Sze
Basel Online 2020
In our most significant online sales presentation to date, Gagosian unveils important works by modern and contemporary masters through two separate online platforms—Gagosian Online and Art Basel Online. These individually curated selections offer collectors direct access to artworks of the highest caliber. To experience the presentation in its entirety, viewers will need to visit both gagosian.com and artbasel.com. The works on gagosian.com will rotate every forty-eight hours, for a total of five cycles.
Helen Frankenthaler, Orange Underline, 1963 © 2020 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Thursday, March 5, 2020, 6:30pm
Gagosian, Britannia Street, London
Join Gagosian for a tour of the group exhibition American Pastoral. The show juxtaposes modern and contemporary works with historical American landscapes ranging from Albert Bierstadt’s depiction of the sublime in Sunset over the River (1877) to Edward Hopper’s tranquil seaside scene, Gloucester Harbor (1926). Gagosian’s Alice Godwin will focus on a select grouping of exhibited works that seek to challenge the idealized vision of the American Dream that has long been a rich topic of inquiry for artists in the United States. To attend the free event, RSVP to email@example.com. Space is limited.
Installation view, American Pastoral, Gagosian, Britannia Street, London, January 23–March 14, 2020. Artwork, left to right: © Theaster Gates, © Adam McEwen, Thomas Moran, © Richard Prince, © Banks Violette, © Ed Ruscha. Photo: Lucy Dawkins
The Whitney’s Collection
Selections from 1900 to 1965
Through May 2022
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
This exhibition of more than 120 works, drawn entirely from the Whitney’s collection, is inspired by the founding history of the museum. The Whitney was established in 1930 by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney to champion the work of living American artists. A sculptor and a patron, Whitney recognized both the importance of contemporary American art and the need to support the artists who made it. The collection she assembled foregrounds how artists uniquely reveal the complexity and beauty of American life. Work by Jay DeFeo, Willem de Kooning, Roy Lichtenstein, Man Ray, Ed Ruscha, Andy Warhol, and Tom Wesselmann is included.
Installation view, The Whitney’s Collection: Selections from 1900 to 1965, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, June 28, 2019–May 2022. Artwork, left to right: © 2020 The Jay DeFeo Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; © Norman Lewis; © 2020 The Franz Kline Estate/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Ron Amstutz
Bilder der Ruhe
February 12–November 15, 2020
Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel
This exhibition, whose title translates to Silent Vision: Images of Calm and Quiet, features works of modern and contemporary art that deal with the subject of tranquility. Each room is dedicated to a specific aspect of calmness, inviting visitors to see and contemplate, as it were, stillness. Work by Alberto Giacometti, Roy Lichtenstein, Pablo Picasso, Gerhard Richter, Richard Serra, and Andy Warhol is included.
Pablo Picasso, Buste de femme de profil (Femme écrivant), 1932, Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel © Succession Picasso/2020, ProLitteris, Zurich
Andy Warhol bis Cindy Sherman
Amerikanische Kunst aus der Albertina
November 19, 2019–March 29, 2020
Schlossmuseum Linz, Austria
Europe’s view of America is influenced by images of the entertainment industry: from film and television to advertising and newspapers. No other nation has placed so much reliance upon the power and impact of pictures and symbols as the US. With more than two hundred works of American art from 1960 to the present day, this large-scale exhibition, whose title translates to Andy Warhol to Cindy Sherman: American Art from the Albertina Museum, aims to illustrate how much our perceptions of truth and reality, facts and fake news, owe to America’s visual culture. Work by Gregory Crewdson, Roy Lichtenstein, Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol, and Tom Wesselmann is included.
Cindy Sherman, Untitled (#112), 2003 © Cindy Sherman
Order and Ornament
Roy Lichtenstein’s Entablatures
September 27, 2019–March 22, 2020
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
This exhibition presents a diverse array of works on paper by Roy Lichtenstein related to his Entablatures series from the 1970s. Inspired by the architectural facades and ornamental motifs he encountered around Wall Street and elsewhere in Lower Manhattan, the series addresses many of Lichtenstein’s central artistic themes while demonstrating a unique emphasis on texture, surface, relief, and reflectivity.
Roy Lichtenstein, Entablature VIII, 1976, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein