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Roy Lichtenstein

Avis Berman

Roy Lichtenstein was one of the most influential and innovative artists of the second half of the twentieth century. He is preeminently identified with Pop Art, a movement he helped originate, and his first fully achieved paintings were based on imagery lifted from comic strips and advertisements and rendered in a style mimicking the crude printing processes of newspaper reproduction. These paintings reinvigorated the American art scene and altered the history of modern art. Lichtenstein’s success was matched by his focus and energy, and after his initial triumph in the early 1960s, he went on to create an oeuvre of more than 5,000 paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, murals and other objects celebrated for their wit and invention.

Lichtenstein became a prolific printmaker and expanded into sculpture, which he had not attempted since the mid-1950s, and in both two- and three-dimensional pieces, he employed a host of industrial or “non-art” materials, and designed mass-produced editioned objects that were less expensive than traditional paintings and sculpture. Participating in one such project—the American Supermarket show in 1964 at the Paul Bianchini Gallery, for which he designed a shopping bag—Lichtenstein met Dorothy Herzka (b. 1939), a gallery employee, whom he married in 1968. The late 1960s also saw Lichtenstein’s first museum surveys: in 1967 the Pasadena Art Museum initiated a traveling retrospective, in 1968 the Stedelijk Musem in Amsterdam presented his first European retrospective, and in 1969 he had his first New York retrospective, at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.