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Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein (b. 1923, New York, NY – d. 1997, New York, NY) was a major figure of the Pop Art Movement, most famous for his paintings with Ben-Day dots and a hard-edge, ironic style, influenced by comic book and advertising imagery of the period. A prolific printmaker, Lichtenstein made more than 400 prints throughout his career.

Raised in New York City, Lichtenstein took his first art courses from the Art Students’ League under Reginald Marsh.  He graduated with an MFA from Ohio State University, after leaving twice to serve in the US Army. In 1960, he began teaching at Rutgers University in New Jersey, after having moved around several teaching positions around the eastern US.

Lichtenstein began working with prints while a student at Ohio State University. He would go on to work in a wide range of printmaking techniques, which would go on to have a strong influence on the development of his signature style. In the early 1960’s, Lichtenstein began to use Ben-Day dot patterns in his work. An exaggeration of dot patterns commonly employed in printing imagery, Ben-Day dots became an important element of the artist’s visual repertoire. In both his paintings and drawings, Lichtenstein used a stencil process to create his irregular dot patterns, and with this technique, he incorporated the look of mechanical reproduction of commercial print culture into the fine-art world.

As an artist, Lichtenstein liked to blur the line between fine and reproducible commercial art, and after investigating the realm of commercial art, he turned his attention to aesthetic clichés in the fine arts as well. Lichtenstein tackled the aesthetic vocabulary of the fine art world by reprising Monet’s infamous Cathedral or Haystack series. By hijacking this staple of French art history and incorporating his signature Ben-Day dots, the artist rerouted Impressionism and made it, in his words, “industrial.”

In the 1960s prints in which he simulates painterly brushstrokes, Lichtenstein parodies the mark-making of Abstract Expressionism—transforming the stylistic device into something clichéd and commercial. As the artist put it: “Visible brushstrokes in a painting convey a sense of grand gesture; but in my hands, the brushstroke becomes a depiction of a grand gesture.”

His work has most recently been included in solo and group exhibitions at the National Gallery of Victoria (2018), Montclair Art Museum (2017), North Carolina Museum of Art (2016), Nassau County Museum of Art (2016), Morgan Library & Museum (2015), Grand Palais, Paris (2015), Walker Art Center (2015), Jewish Museum, New York (2015), National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (2015), Philadelphia Museum of Art (2015), Smithsonian American Art Museum (2015),  Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza (2014), National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, (2014), Seattle Art Museum (2014), El Paso Museum of Art (2013), Art Institute of Chicago (2013), Hague Gemeentemuseum (2013), Museum of Modern Art, New York (2013), Kunstmuseum Stuttgart (2012), Chicago Art Institute (2012), High Museum of Art (2012), Vitra Design Museum (2012), Seoul National Museum of Contemporary Art( 2011), Boston MFA (2011), New York Museum of Arts and Design (2011) and the Whitney Museum of American Art (2011).

In 2002, Hudson Hills printed a catalogue raisonné of Lichtenstein’s prints from 1948 to 1997, by Mary L. Cortlett.

Lichtenstein’s work is in numerous prominent museum collections, including the Albertina Museum, AT; Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Broad museum, CA; Center for Contemporary Graphic Art, JP; Centre Pompidou, FR; Fogg Museum, Harvard University, MA; Fondation Beyeler, CH; Hamburger Bahnhof, DE; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Israel Museum, IL; J. Paul Getty Museum, CA; Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, FI; Kunsthaus Zürich, CH; Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, SK; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, DK; Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst Aachen, DE; Ludwig Múzeum, HU; Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX; Moderna Museet, SE; Morgan Library and Museum, NY; Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, CA; Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, FR; Museo de Arte de Ponce, PR; Museo di Arte Moderna, IT; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, ES; Museu Coleção Berardo, PT; Museum Boymans-van-Beuningen, NL; Museum Ludwig, DE; Museum Moderner Kunst, AT; Museum of Contemporary Art, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art, JP; Museum of Fine Arts, MA; Museum of Fine Arts, TX; Museum of Modern Art, NY; National Art Museum of China, CN; National Gallery of Australia, AU; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; Seattle Art Museum, WA; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY; Stedelijk Museum, NL; Rhode Island School of Design Museum, RI; Rose Art Museum, MA; Tate Modern, UK; Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, IR; Tokyo Fuji Art Museum, JP; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, VA; Walker Art Center, MN; Whitney Museum of Art, NY and the Yale University Art Gallery, CT.
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