Thursday, December 3, 2009

Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein was born on October 27, 1923 in New York City, New York. He was part of an upper class family and was able to attend prestigious secondary school. However, this school did not have art as a part of it's curriculum, so Lichtenstein developed this as an outside hobby. His main inspiration was the musicians at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. After graduation, Lichtenstein decided to pursue his passion in fine arts at Ohio State University. However, WWII interrupted his plans and he spent three years from 1943-1946 in the army. When he came back, though, his passion for art was still strong and he was able to seamlessly return to finish his undergraduate degree. He stayed on in Ohio State to finish up a graduate degree and became an art instructor. It was during this time that Lichtenstein started to study under Hoyt L. Sherman, another American artist, who greatly influenced Lichtenstein's work. Finally, in 1951, Lichtenstein had his exhibition and it was soon after this that he started to develop his style of abstract expressionism.

Lichtenstein's career really took off in 196o when he started teaching at Ruetgers University. In 1961, he started to do Pop art paintings involving cartoons drawn in the style of commercial printing. These paintings were unique and different and were able to rocket him to fame. In 1963, he painted one of his most famous pieces, 'Whaaam!', which was a cartoon depiction of fighter jets. His first museum exhibit was held not long after in 1967. Throughout the rest of his career, Lichtenstein's fame grew and he experimented with a mo re surreal style of painting, like 'Pow Wow' painted in 1979. Unfortunately, it was at the height of his fame that Lichtenstein died of pneumonia in September 29, 1997.

Lichtenstein will always be known for his interesting technique of mixing cartoon imagery with and painting. His main technique involved a use of bold, bright colors and thick outlines. The main medium through which he worked was oil and Magna paints. In particular, his pieces were focused on commercialism and sometimes would do re-paintings of scenes in comic books. Whaam!, one of his most famous paintings, is very indicative of the style that made him famous, with it's bold colors and it's use of captions to guide the audience.

Whaam!, c. 1963
(taken from:!1963.jpg)
This painting is very typical of Lichtenstein. With it's bold use of lines, the artist is able to show a lot of action and in-your-face emotion with his style. The onomatopoeia title written at the top further adds the dimension of sound to the painting, making Lichtenstein's art a full sensory experience.

Drawing for Still Life with a Recling Nude, c. 1997
(taken from:,%201997.jpg)
However, not only was Lichtenstein a painter, he also did drawings. The example above shows his unique blend of drawing and his own style of Pop cartoon art.

Finally, below is my personal favorite painting by Lichtenstein, titled 'The Kiss'. With it's close up angle and coloring, I feel that one is able to clearly feel and see the emotions of happiness and of a joyful reunion.

The Kiss, c. 1962
(taken from:

I chose Lichtenstein because I am a big fan of comic books and I love that he was able to combine a cartoon style with artwork and was critically acclaimed for it. His use of bright, vibrant colors and his bold and innovative styles are things I aspire to as an artist. The depth of emotions and possible social commentary that he is able to communicate through his paintings continue to draw me in to enjoy his amazing, evocative work work.

-Annie Rachapudi

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