As part of Creative Corner, every week SEREN will look at the life of a famous artist. This week we turn to Roy Lichtenstein.
Roy Lichtenstein was born in New York on October 27th 1923. The son of upper class Jewish parents, he first became interested in art at school, where he took drawing up as a hobby. In his youth he would visit the Apollo Theater in Harlem, drawing portraits of the Jazz musicians that performed.
Lichtenstein left New York to study art at Ohio State University. His studies became disrupted however by the Second World War, where he was drafted in as a serviceman. He later returned to Ohio in 1946, where his studies continued under the tuition of Hoyt L. Sherman – an artist who would come to have profound influence on his work.
It was in 1960 that Lichtenstein became a teacher at Rutgers University. By this point he was married to Isabel Wilson, with whom he had two children – David and Mitchell. This academic environment would re-ignite his interest in Proto-pop imagery, and in 1961 he created his first pop paintings. This would later become his signature style. The work was inspired by commercial prints, and his children, who told him they didn’t think he could draw pictures as good as the illustrations seen in Mickey Mouse comics.
In 1962, Lichtenstein held his first one man Pop Art show in New York, and in 1966 he became the first American to be exhibited at The Tate. During this period, his paintings were based mainly on war and romance comics. These include 1964’s ‘Anxious Girl’, in which he re-created the effects of Benday Screening by painting in dots, reflecting the technique used in comic book printing.
Lichtenstein would venture into sculpture in his later work, such as 1981’s ‘Amerind Figure’, made from black patinated bronze. He would also be commissioned to make a film – Three Landscapes – with the help of Universal Film Studios. The film documented marine landscapes, relating to a series of collages with landscape themes he created between 1964-66.
Lichtenstein passed away on September 29th 1997 in New York, where he had been hospitalised for several weeks from pneumonia. Despite this, his work has continued to receive widespread critical acclaim, and an enduring commercial appeal up to the present day.