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Roy Lichtenstein

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Roy Lichtenstein
Contemporary (post 1945) Painting
(New York City, NY, December 28, 1923 - September 29, 1997, New York City, NY)

Roy Lichtenstein is remembered as one of the 20th century's greatest and most influential artists. An excellent painter and sculptor, Lichtenstein was a pioneer whose unique visual language became the transitional voice between the modern and post-modern art movements of the late 20th century. Ruth E. Fine, Curator of Modern Prints and Drawings for the National Gallery of Art, distinguishes four areas of Lichtenstein's work that became "potent forces in late 20th Century art" : 1) The breakdown of barriers between art and life, using everyday objects and subjects appropriate to consumer culture 2) An exploration of art based on other art 3) An interest in serial imagery 4) Participation in the untraditional medium of printmaking Born in New York City in 1923, Roy grew up in a city that epitomized the ideals and machinations of modernism. He therefore gained a unique understanding of the affects of modern life on the solitary soul, the group, and the society at-large. Growing up during the depression years and coming of age at the start of World War II, he was greatly influenced by the jazz clubs of Harlem and the boxing matches and carnivals of Coney Island. At the age of 14, he began classes at Parson's School of Design, and at 16 he studied at the Art Students League under Reginald Marsh, and by 1940 he was enrolled as a painting major at Ohio State University, Columbus. His education was interrupted from 1943-1946 by a European tour of duty during World War II. He began his artistic career as an abstract expressionist painter exploring the ideas of spontaneity and the "epoch of crisis" inherent in action painting. As America began to move past the effects of World War II and into prosperous times, art no longer needed to be an emotional reaction to the effects of nuclear war and industrialization. Instead, it became a commentary on American prosperity and the commercial boom that resulted from the war efforts. Roy Lichtenstein's paintings and prints are the embodiment of this change. By 1961 Roy began to use objects and images from mass culture and advertising. He adapted painting techniques and imagery from comic strips, commercial printing, stenciling, and projected images. Good Morning, Darling, , Whaam! (1963), and Big Painting VI (1965) are among his most popular comic strip paintings. These blowups of the original cartoon were reproduced by hand and brought him unparalleled attention. His art consisted of black outlines, stripes, dots, brushstrokes, flat fields, foils, and patterns such as canvas weave and wood grain. The idea of appropriating imagery from popular culture transformed Lichtenstein into a leader of the New York City based pop art movement along with artists like Andy Warhol. During this time he also produced elegant sculptures that revived earlier forms of the 1930s, as seen in his Modern Sculpture with Glass Wave(1967). Roy Lichtenstein's Bull Profile Series is one of his most popular series of his lithographic works. Completed in 1973, Lichtenstein's purpose during this period was to explore the "progression of an image from representation to abstraction". To illustrate this progression, Roy's Bull unfolds in 7 different phases. Beginning with a monochromatic palette, he gradually breaks down the form into many geometrical compliments, he sections the picture plane using areas of color and diagonal lines. These shapes become more abstract until they are simply flat planes of color. Once the deconstruction of the Bull has been completed, Roy returns to the original form with a new interpretation in primary colors that are indicative of the pop-art movements re-interpretation of commercial art. (Biography from Art Cellar Exchange)


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