He was born in 1923 in New York City. An introvert by nature, he preferred to spend his time quietly listening to his radio show heroes such as Flash Gordon and other superheroes of the time. Before he was done with his career as an artist, however, Roy Lichtenstein would go on to become an American pop legend.
His focus always remained on the great superheroes of the time as well as what pop icons and celebrities dominated a particular time period. He looked for commercial success and his colors were vibrant, harsh and often slashing and swirling. He became associated with a group of artists who favored this style including the equally legendary Andy Warhol.
He began his sojourn at age 16 when he began to study art and went on to further his art education at Ohio State. After service in World War Two, he returned and took his master’s degree and went into teaching. During this stretch, he got married and raised a family.
The new movement in abstract art was beginning to develop during the time of the 1950’s. He would begin making sojourns to New York to make friends with these abstract artists as well as to attend showings and galleries. During the 1950’s his abstract influences such as Klee and Picasso began to take hold of his imagination. He painted and sculpted in the form and began to allow a structure and a style to emerge that would bring him fame and notoriety later on.
In 1957, he packed up his family and left Cleveland for New York. He began to paint and to immerse himself in the abstract art world and broke through with his first show in 1962. The abstract expressionist world seemed to take umbrage with his initial show. Many thought the art was just huge blown up Ben Day dots with splashes of striking colors and swirls. Despite this, he felt that he was beginning to find the style that would make him world renowned.
His work became an immediate hit with the public and even weathered a withering Life magazine article that posed serious doubt on his talent. He seized upon current pop culture with all its icons and celebrities and held them up to the starkness of his colors. He is truly considered one of the founding fathers of the popular art movement.
As the 1970’s took hold, comic book superheroes and characters began to take a back seat to a movement inspired by both himself and Andy Warhol. He continued to paint everything from landscapes to portraits and continued to be influenced by such legends as Pablo Picasso. He passed on September 29, 1997, with a firm grip on his legacy and his work continues to be shown and admired today.