Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) first came to prominence in the early 1960s through large-scale paintings that drew upon the visual repertory of popular culture, in particular comic strips and advertisements. The artist painted by hand, and later using a perforated screen, to mimic the Benday dots used in commercial printing to convey colour gradation and texture, blurring the distinctions between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture in both form and content. Lichtenstein also ventured beyond comic book subjects, looking back at his art-historical predecessors in paintings that reference Cézanne, Mondrian and Picasso, as well as still-lifes and landscapes.
By the late 1960s, Roy Lichtenstein’s work had become more abstract, exploring the nature and expressive possibilities of the brushstroke itself – this fundamental component of painting came to the fore as a subject in its own right across both paintings and sculptures. Over the following decades, he further probed questions of formalism and abstraction in his Mirrors series (1969–79), evoking the effects of light and shadow on glass, and theEntablatures (1970–76), which investigated similar phenomena using Beaux-Art architectural forms. Lichtenstein also created pioneering painted bronze sculptures that subverted the medium’s conventional volume and mass, functioning instead as flat lines in space. In the 1970s, Lichtenstein expanded his palette beyond red, blue, yellow, black, white and green, as well as combining invented and found images. Having created his first public mural in 1963, Lichtenstein intensified these efforts in the 1980s and 1990s, painting murals and installing monumental public sculptures in cities across the US, as well as in Europe, Israel, Japan and Puerto Rico.
In accordance with the wishes of the artist and his family, the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation was established in 1998 to facilitate access to his work and that of his contemporaries, and to establish a catalogue raisonné of his works, which is an ongoing project.
Roy Lichtenstein’s first solo show was in 1951 at Carlebach Gallery in New York, but it was his debut exhibition at Leo Castelli Gallery a decade later that brought him wider recognition in the art world. In 1963, his works were displayed alongside those of Jim Dine, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist and Andy Warhol in the seminal Six Painters and the Object exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. In 1966, Lichtenstein was among the five artists representing the USA at the Venice Biennale, followed by his first European retrospective at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. His work has been exhibited in major retrospectives at the Guggenheim Museum (1969 and 1993); the first drawings retrospective by a living artist at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1987, which toured to museums across Europe; and a 2012-13 retrospective organised by the Art Institute of Chicago and Tate Modern, London.
Since 1992, Roy Lichtenstein’s work has been included in seven group exhibitions at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac Salzburg and Paris. The 2019 exhibition Roy Lichtenstein: The Loaded Brush, focusing on his works from the 1980s, marks the artist’s first solo show at the gallery.
Portrait: Roy Lichtenstein in his 29th Street studio working on Red Barn Through the Trees (1984), New York, 1984. Photograph: Robert McKeever © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein, Courtesy The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation Archives.
Public and private collections
Broad Museum, Los Angeles
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco
Denver Art Museum, Denver
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Chicago
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Whitney Museum of Art, New York
Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland
Portland Art Museum, Portland
The Menil Collection, Houston
Centre Pompidou, Paris
Museum Ludwig, Cologne
Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
Moderna Museet, Stockholm
Fondation Beyeler, Riehen
Kunsthaus Zürich, Zürich
Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, St. Gallen
Tate Modern, London
TheVictoria and Albert Museum, London
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Ludwig Museum for International Art, Beijing
Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo