Roy Lichtenstein (1923–1997) is one of the central figures of American Pop Art. In the early 1960s he pioneered a new style of painting, executed by hand but inspired by industrial printing processes. He became renowned for works based on comic strips and advertising imagery, coloured with his signature hand-painted Benday dots, as an ongoing examination of representation and originality in mass media culture. This exhibition will showcase such key paintings as Look Mickey 1961 (National Gallery of Art, Washington), Whaam! 1963 (Tate), Drowning Girl 1963 (Museum of Modern Art, New York) and his monumental Artist’s Studio series of 1973–4. The artist’s rich and expansive practice will be represented by a wide range of materials, including paintings using Rowlux and steel, as well as sculptures in ceramic and brass and a selection of previously unseen drawings, collages and works on paper.
Alongside classic paintings of romantic heroines and scenes of war for which Lichtenstein is well known, the exhibition will show other early Pop works, such as images of everyday objects in black and white. Also on display will be the full scope of Lichtenstein’s artistic explorations depicting landscapes, mirrors and so-called ‘perfect’ and ‘imperfect’ paintings.
It will also highlight Lichtenstein’s engagement with art history, revealing his lesser-known responses to Futurism, Surrealism and German Expressionism. In the final years of his life, the artist went on to create a series of huge female nudes and sublime Chinese landscapes, neither of which have previously been shown within the wider context of his oeuvre.
Roy Lichtenstein was born in New York in 1923, where he lived and worked for most of his life. After studying art at Ohio State University, he taught in New York and New Jersey before rising to prominence with a solo show at Castelli Gallery in 1962. He died in 1997 aged 73. His works are held in major public collections around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum Ludwig,Cologneand the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
Lichtenstein: A Retrospective is curated at Tate Modern by Sheena Wagstaff, Chairman of the Modern and Contemporary Art Department, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and Iria Candela, Assistant Curator, Tate Modern. The exhibition opened at The Art Institute of Chicago in May 2012 and travels to The National Gallery of Art, Washington in October 2012 and the Centre Pompidou, Paris in July 2013.