Roy Lichtenstein

About the Artist

Roy Lichtenstein in front of one of his paintings at an exhibition in Stedelijk Museum. 3 November, 1967

Roy Lichtenstein in front of one of his paintings at an exhibition in Stedelijk Museum.
Eric Koch / Anefo 3 November, 1967

Roy Lichtenstein was an painter, sculptor, printmaker and educator whose iconic works helped shape the Pop art movement.

Early Life and Education

Roy Lichtenstein was born and raised in Manhattan’s Upper West Side in 1923, the oldest of two children. His father was a real estate broker, his mother a homemaker who encouraged Lichtenstein to pursue the talent for music, art and science that he displayed as a child. While still in high school, Lichtenstein took Saturday morning watercolor classes at The Parsons School of Design. After high school graduation, Lichtenstein spent the summer studying at the Art Students League, with Reginald Marsh, who emphasized exacting technique.

Lichtenstein began his undergraduate degree at Ohio State University, but was drafted into the army in 1943. He was stationed in Europe, where he saw the works of great Masters in Paris and London museums. Lichtenstein drew and painted during his entire stint in the army. He returned home in 1946. After completing his BFA degree at Ohio State, and went on to get his MFA while teaching drawing and design at the university, a position he held for ten years.

During his time at Ohio State, Lichtenstein’s style was a combination of Cubism and Abstract Expressionism, slowly edging toward what would become Pop art. In 1949, Lichtenstein married Isabel Wilson. The couple had two sons, and moved to New York in 1957, where he taught at Rutgers University and began to paint cartoons and household objects.

Lichtenstein had his first solo show at the Leo Castelli gallery in 1962. The show sold out before opening night. Lichtenstein resigned from Rutgers and concentrated on painting full time. His work, using bold colors, bold lines and Ben Day dots became instantly recognizable and increasingly desirable, not just in America, but worldwide. Lichtenstein divorced Isabel Wilson in 1965 and married Dorothy Herzka in 1968. Lichtenstein died in New York in 1997.


Lichtenstein’s work is in permanent collections at the National Gallery, the Tate and other major museums. His murals and sculptures can be seen in cities around the world. The 20-foot-high Mermaid sculpture can be seen at the Jackie Gleason Theater in Miami Beach.


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