Author: Imogen Aldridge

Artist Feature: Roy Lichtenstein (1923 - 1997)

A name synonymous with Pop Art, Roy Lichtenstein is amongst the biggest American artists of the 1960s, best known for his distinctive, comic strip style pieces. Famously combining traditional art techniques with ‘low brow’ subject matter such as comics and cartoons, Lichtenstein’s work directly challenged the limitations and scepticism of the abstract expressionist movement of the time. 


CREATING POP ART THROUGH PARODY

In a similar vein to peers such as Richard Hamilton and Andy Warhol, Lichtenstein’s subject matter and art style incorporated pop culture, commercialism, mass-art production, and popular illustration. However, it was Lichtenstein’s use of traditional art techniques such as bold lines, thick paint and bright colours that drew both positive and negative attention from art critics, largely surrounding the juxtaposition of subject matter and technique.

Following his earliest pieces, Lichtenstein leaned into this style further, going on to incorporate his exaggerated Ben-Day Dots which directly drew from commercialised, mass-printing techniques -  another facet of the pop art movement that Lichtenstein helped define. Later becoming one of the hallmarks of his work, Lichtenstein’s bright and bold lines and Ben-Day Dots allowed his work to  significantly stand out amongst the rest.

On top of his influence and success in Pop Art, Lichtenstein also explored and saw success with other art forms such as Expressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism.  His explorative body of work had a major influence on up and coming artists at the time, going on to heavily inform the Postmodernism art movement. 

After majorly shaking things up in the art community, Lichtenstein’s work was considered ‘disruptive’, drawing both heavy criticism and praise from the wider art world. But despite the critics, Lichtenstein persisted in showing and creating art, and as a result, his incredible influence can still be seen to this day. Even without knowledge of Lichtenstein and his influence, it's likely that in describing pop art, many people would detail the characteristics of his work. 

Once called “one of the worst artists in America” by LIFE magazine, Lichtenstein’s persistence and refusal to conform or compromise has led to a breath-taking body of highly influential, timeless work. Here we’ll explore some of his most notable pieces, commenting on their style, significance, and legacy in the world of Lichtenstein pop art. 


MOST FAMOUS ARTWORKS: ROY LICHTENSTEIN POP ART


Look, Mickey - 1961

Originally created for his children, Lichtenstein’s Look, Mickey is his earliest piece in which he directly borrows from popular culture. While the scene is based on that from a book, Lichtenstein incorporates what would go on to be many of his signature techniques including: a rotated canvas, bold, black lines, primary colours, and Ben-Day dots, all inspired by print media.

Though only just coming onto the pop art scene with ‘Mickey’ in 1961, this early work drew plenty of criticism from art critics who labelled it as plagiarism of commercial imagery. However, many fans of Lichtenstein saw beyond the well-known characters and subject matter, paying more attention to the subtleties, such as the humorous tone, and the application of his own artistic techniques that referenced wider pop culture such as mass media. 

Drowning Girl - 1963

Similar to his earliest works where Lichtenstein borrows imagery and subject matter from cartoons and comic books, Drowning Girl is based on the cover of a DC comic called Run for Love. Again drawing criticism from critics, Lichtenstein’s piece incorporated several changes including the removal of the girl’s boyfriend from the scene, a closer focus on the woman’s face to accentuate the anguished sentiment, as well as slight changes to the speech copy. In addition to upping the melodrama of the original piece, Drowning Girl also features the many hallmarks of Lichtenstein’s signature style - the piece incorporates both traditional oil painting techniques with his pop-art Ben-Day Dots, a nod to mass produced printing often seen in comic books. 

In addition to drawing on popular culture, the artist’s insistence on crossing the boundary between traditional and modern / commercially inspired techniques is what makes the piece an iconic piece of Roy Lichtenstein pop art. 

Whaam - 1963

Again borrowing from the comic strip format, Whaam is one of Lichtenstein’s most famous works. Once again it incorporates pop-culture subject matter, as well as all the traditional facets of a mass-produced comic book including bold, black lines, Ben-Day dots, bold primary colours, speech bubbles, and the use of words and lettering to convey loud sounds. As with Drowning Girl, Whaam is directly borrowed from a DC comic, this time from All-American Men of War. 

In creating Whaam, Lichtenstein used a similar process as he did with Drowning Girl. Consistently throughout, he made subtle – and in some places almost unnoticeable – changes to the piece to create his own version, alongside other more blatant changes such as the changing of major colours. Commenting on this use of comics as a medium, Lichtenstein said, “My work is actually different from comic strips in that every mark is really in a different place, however slight the difference seems to some. The difference is often not great, but it is crucial”.

GET YOUR OWN ROY LICHTENSTEIN POP ART

Despite what his critics might have said throughout his career, we love Roy Lichtenstein at Art Republic. As one of Pop Art’s most famous sons his art is iconic and instantly recognisable to this day. Discover more artwork by Roy Lichtenstein or our full collection of pop art wall prints.

NEW RELEASES

Wobbly by Erwin Wurm
Rare
Wobbly £7,650
Ivy Mike by Robert Longo
Rare
Ivy Mike £14,280

Robert Longo

null

Limited edition of 15

Forest of Doxa by Robert Longo
Rare
Balloon Animals I Matching Set by Jeff Koons
Rare
Balloon Animals I Matching Set £45,900

Jeff Koons

null

Limited edition of 999

Diamond (Blue) by Jeff Koons
Rare
Rare
"Coca Cola" Glass Vase £4,250

Ai Weiwei

null

Limited edition of 300

Mel Ferrer's Nightmare (Grey With Flowers) by Pure Evil
Rare
Mel Ferrer's Nightmare (Grey With Flowers) £1,500

Pure Evil

null

Limited edition of AP

The Wild Swim from £120

Oli Mumby

Various sizes

Off You Pop by Louise Nordh
Exclusive
Off You Pop £95

Louise Nordh

35 x 35cm

Limited edition of 30

Moving Forms by Mr Penfold
Exclusive
Moving Forms £165

Mr Penfold

26 x 30cm

Limited edition of 15

Inside Mickey's Heart from £150

Angel London

Various sizes

Navy Boy £175

Charlie Evaristo-Boyce

50 x 70cm

Limited edition of 25

I Will Bite from £135

Mathilda Mai

Various sizes

Italian Summer by SODA
Exclusive
Italian Summer £125

SODA

42 x 29.7cm

Limited edition of 40

Let's Get It On £595

Linda Charles

56 x 76cm

Limited edition of 45

Wash the Blues Away by Charlie Haydn Taylor
Exclusive
Wash the Blues Away from £150

Charlie Haydn Taylor

Various sizes

Inhale £175

Joe Webb

50 x 70cm

Limited edition of 30

Roarsome - Green by And Wot
Exclusive
Roarsome - Green £195

And Wot

50 x 70cm

Limited edition of 2

Fresh £200

Hannah Adamaszek

60 x 75.5cm

Limited edition of 15

Destroy the Patriarchy Not the Planet (Mini) £400

Hannah Shillito

27.9 x 21cm

Limited edition of 20

Scratchin' Cats (Blue) £150

The Cameron Twins

33 x 36cm

Limited edition of 20

Fast Dog £95

Gavin Dobson

50 x 70cm

Limited edition of 100

In The Sky With Stars £195

Charlie Evaristo-Boyce

70 x 100cm

Limited edition of 16

Gamebuoy by Nick Chaffe
Exclusive
Gamebuoy £100

Nick Chaffe

29.7 x 42cm

Limited edition of 50

Seascape W £300

Newton Blades

50 x 30cm

Limited edition of 100