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
Jacoba Urist profiles the legendary collector.
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.
Roy Lichtenstein’s Greenwich Village Studio
Dorothy Lichtenstein, widow of Roy Lichtenstein, and the Lichtenstein family will donate the late artist’s Greenwich Village studio building to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. The Whitney will adapt the space to serve as the first permanent home of its widely influential Independent Study Program, which was founded in 1968. The building at 741/745 Washington Street was constructed in 1912 as a metalworking shop. Lichtenstein bought the approximately 9,000-square-foot building in 1987 and used it after renovation as his New York residence and studio from 1988 to 1997.
Roy and Dorothy Lichtenstein in the artist’s Washington Street studio, New York, c. 1992. Artwork © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. Photo: © Christine de Grancy, courtesy the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation Archives
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
The Whitney’s Collection
Selections from 1900 to 1965
Opened June 28, 2019
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
New York: 1962–1964
Through January 8, 2023
Jewish Museum, New York
The final project conceived and curated by Germano Celant (1940–2020), this exhibition explores a pivotal three-year period in the history of art and culture in New York City, examining how artists living and working in the city responded to their rapidly changing world. The more than 150 artworks on view were all made or seen in New York between 1962 and 1964. Work by Donald Judd, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol is included.
Andy Warhol, Empire, 1964 (still), Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh © The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, a museum of Carnegie Institute. All rights reserved
Hey! Did you know that art does not exist…
July 27, 2021–January 8, 2022
Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel
This exhibition presents more than one hundred works from Sylvio Perlstein’s intensely personal collection, which traces artists and trends that have defined the avant-garde, complex, and experimental nature of twentieth-century art. Work by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Duane Hanson, Roy Lichtenstein, Man Ray, Brice Marden, Ed Ruscha, Rudolf Stingel, Cy Twombly, and Andy Warhol is included.
Rudolf Stingel, Untitled, 2002 © Rudolf Stingel. Photo: Alessandro Zambianchi
Face à Arcimboldo
May 29–November 22, 2021
Centre Pompidou-Metz, France
This exhibition, whose title translates to Arcimboldo Face to Face, invites visitors to explore the timeless vocabulary of the sixteenth-century painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo (c. 1527–1593). The show demonstrates how his work has influenced art history for more than four centuries through the work of 130 artists, including work by Francis Bacon, Glenn Brown, Alex Israel, Ewa Juszkiewicz, Roy Lichtenstein, Man Ray, Pablo Picasso, Auguste Rodin, and Ed Ruscha.
Ewa Juszkiewicz, Untitled (After Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun), 2020 © Ewa Juszkiewicz