Roy Lichtenstein- Life, paintings, contribution, death- Easy explanation
Roy lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein- Life, paintings, contribution, death- Easy explanation

Roy Lichtenstein: In this article, you would know everything about Roy LichtensteinFrom his childhood to death– Life, paintings, contribution, death- Easy explanation.

Roy Lichtenstein- Life, paintings, contribution, death- Easy explanation

Early life and beginnings

Mr Roy Lichtenstein was not from well to do family. His father, Mr.Milten was a real estate broker who used to spend his most time far from Roy Lichtenstein, his mother Beatrice was a homemaker.

He attended public school on the Upper West Side (Area between Hudson River and Central Park), after finishing his initial schooling, he then went to Dwight School that was located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

At that time this institution used to give degree in International Baccalaureate Curriculum.

Roy Lichtenstein graduated from there in the year 1940. During this curriculum, he adopted making drawing and participating in art related ceremony as a hobby.

He used to participate in these kinds of activities (Drawing competitions, pop art movement etc.) during this college. In his one magazine’s interview, he had expressed keenness for pop music.

Because Roy Lichtenstein was an avid jazz (music genre) fan, that’s why, in his works(paintings, depictions) we see a deep relation between before pop art and pop music.

In last year of schooling, he joined summer classes in Arts Students League that was also situated in New York, Roy Lichenstein met with Reginald Marsh, and he worked under his supervision.

Reginald Marsh was an American painter, and he guided Mr Roy Lichtenstein in his initial paintings and depictions.

In Art Students League of New York, this artist worked under the tutelage of Reginald Marsh for several years.

Roy Lichtenstein paintings

Roy Lichtenstein is known for painting and sculpting who also joined the pop art movement of New York City (Manhattan). He also became an honourable member of “The Independent Group” whose paintings blurred the line between high art and low art.

We see many paintings made by Roy Lichtenstein- Brattata (1962), Engagement Ring (1961), Girl with Ball (1961), Roto Broil (1961), Blam (1962), I Can See the Whole Room…and There’s Nobody in It! (1961) and so on.

In each painting, he has depicted mundane objects and daily use things in a funny way, and his parody style was so unique such in the painting-  I Can See the Whole Room…and There’s Nobody in It! Of 1961, he has depicted a man seeing through a round hole.

It’s a painting in which a person wants to express his suspicious expression.

Description of a few paintings:

Ten Dollar Bill of 1956: Roy Lichtenstein had made this lithographic drawing (Proto pop art) in the year 1956. This is referred to as the beginning of Lichtenstein’s artwork in the field of Pop art movement.

Electric Cord of 1961: The cost of this painting was estimated in Oct 2012, and its estimated cost was $4 million, this pop art painting was made in 1961, but in 2012, this painting was returned to the Leo Castelli’s widow.

At that time, the cost of this painting was $750. But in 2012, its price was $4 million.

Engagement Ring of 1961: This painting is based on Winnie Winkle series, and many cartoons magazines featured this painting in their story column, but this was not same painting.

Roy Lichtenstein had changed its narrative accompaniment and graphical description. In his most Romantic comic books, we see this image (painting).

Crying girl of 1963: Crying girl is the reference of two very different works of Roy Lichtenstein.

First is- It’s an offset lithograph of 1963, this was made on wove paper (off white).

Second is- It’s a porcelain enamel that was made in 1964 on steel.

roy lichtenstein biography


He is known for his active role in the Pop art movement. His first wife Isabel Wilson divorced Roy Lichtenstein (they had two children) and then this artist married with Dorothy Herzka.

Meanwhile, he faced many difficulties in his personal and professional life.

Roy Lichtenstein then went to Ohio State University to get the classes of fine arts. This University used to offer studio courses. But at the time World War 2, he faced hardship in professional/student career, 3-year stint in the National Army interrupted his study.

This period (1943-1946) was miserable for him. Because he had to cancel all his training programme such as Engineering, Pilot training, Language learning etc.

At that time, Roy Lichtenstein had served as a draftsman and artist.

He was not from well to do family. That’s why he used to bear all the expenses of the family.

During this political upheaval, he returned home to meet his dying father Milton. This became only possible due to GI bill(Designed by American Legion for the amenities of World War 2 veterans).

Hoyt L. Sherman had guided Roy Lichtenstein during this time, he gave emotional support to Roy Lichtenstein and also encouraged him to join the university.

Hoyt L. Sherman was a professor and American artist and his influence we see in the artwork of Roy Lichtenstein. This artist was the student of Hoyt L. Sherman in 1940.

Roy Lichtenstein Foundation

To protect the work of Roy Lichtenstein from the risk of protracted lawsuits. In 1999, the “Roy Lichtenstein Foundation” was established.

Because at that time copious fake paintings and depictions of this artist were in the market.

Therefore to check the authenticity of those artworks, this foundation (Roy Lichtenstein Foundation) had come into existence. The members of the Foundation decided to keep the real work far from commercial painting to curb the menace of protracted lawsuits.

There are so many paintings of Roy Lichtenstein that are missing now. In the year 2006, this foundation had sent out a picture of Electric Cord that was made in 1961, to the Daniel Goldreyer.

Through this painting (card), the member of the foundation had urged that if you get whereabouts of these paintings then report to this association.

This foundation identified many missing paintings. After authentication of this painting (Electric Cord), that was missing since 1970. They preserved it in Leo Castelli Gallery.

Along with the paintings of Roy Lichtenstein, you may also see the collection of photographic material that was shot by Harry Shunk.

This association still claims the copyright claim of the work of this artist and all concerned material such as Photographs of Harry Shunk.

Rise to prominence

Roy Lichtenstein started teaching at Rutgers University which was situated in New Jersey.

It was the higher institution in New Jersey; this artist met with Allan Kaprow, who was an American artist (painter) and the pioneer in introducing the concepts of performance (At secondary level) art.

He helped Roy Lichtenstein in the working of his initial paintings.

They both were a professor there. Here this artist adopted an interest in Proto-pop imagery. In 1961, he stepped in the advertisement industry as a commercial painter (Illustrator). His many paintings came during this phase such as Engagement Ring in 1961; I Can See the Whole Room…and There’s Nobody in It! In 1961, Roto-Broil in 1961, Mr Bellamy in 1961, Girl with Ball in 1961, Look Mickey in 1961 etc.

Roy Lichtenstein had made his first pop painting using parody style and cartoon images- Thus for the first time, Pop art had been seen as the pillar of the advertisement industry and capitalistic hub.

He continued his career as a commercial illustrator till 1965. During this time, he included the use of increased consumerism advertising imagery and homemaking.

Look Mickey of 1961 was the painting of Roy Lichtenstein wherein he had featured the Ben-Day dots and hard-edged figures. National Gallary of Art(Washington, D.C) has still featured this painting (Look Mickey).


National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C) is the largest repository of the artworks of Roy Lichtenstein. This museum is open to the public visit, and there is no charge to see the paintings, depictions, artworks of this artist.

In 1996, this artist had donated his two books and 154 prints to the National Gallery of Art. Therefore you may see his authentic paintings here.

Along with this museum, The Art Institute of Chicago is also a museum wherein you may see his original collection including Mirror No. 3(Six Panels) and Brushstroke with Spatter.

If we sum up the total number of collections, done by Roy Lichtenstein Foundation and his widow Dorothy, then this figure goes to hundreds.

Apart from it, The Museum Ludwig (Europe) has one of the most precious and comprehensive paintings of Roy Lichtenstein.

Till 300 paintings have been identified that were made by this artist and these all are present in the “National Gallery of Australia (Kenneth Tyler Collection).

Art market

Many art galleries feature the work of Roy Lichtenstein in their main display. Leo Castelli Art Gallery, New York Art Gallery and Sonnabend Gallery are few among them.

These play a significant role in the selling/bidding of paintings and depictions made by Roy Lichtenstein.

But these associations only feature these paintings, and if you want to bid on these paintings, then there are the sufficient number of galleries which serve this purpose such as- Holly Solomon, Carlebach, Rosa Esman, Ferus Gallery, Gagosian Gallery, John Heller, Mitchell-Innes & Nash, Pace Gallery etc.

These places are counted in the best Art market for Roy Lichtenstein’ artworks. But Leo Castelli Gallery is the only so-called organisation which represents (features, exhibits) the paintings of this artist since 1962.

Leo Castelli Gallery (Showcases contemporary art) has been exhibiting artwork since 1962.

Gagosian Gallery (contemporary art gallery represented by Larry Gagosian) has been exhibiting artwork by Roy Lichtenstein since 1996.

Paintings name with Explanation:-

Big Painting No. 6- His painting- “Big Painting No. 6” (235 cm × 330 cm) was the highest priced painting of 1970. It was made in 1965. It’s an oil and Magna painting that was made on canvas.

Torpedo … Los!- The cost of this painting was $5.5 million in 1989. This was sold in the British auction house (Christie). It was the record at that time. It made him(Roy Lichtenstein) only one living artist (Among 3) who attracted this huge sums.

Ohhh … Alright…- Roy Lichtenstein had made this painting in 1964, and Steve Martin had purchased this painting, but Christie(British auction house) featured this painting in its exhibition.

And this painting broke all record of sale- In 2010, its cost was US$42.6m (£26.7m).

Personal life

Roy Lichtenstein married with Isabel Wilson in 1949. Isabel Wilson was the wife of Michael Sarisky who was also an artist. But due to some misunderstanding, Lichtenstein divorced Isabel Wilson and married to another woman Dorothy Herzka.

But Roy Lichtenstein had spent nice days with his first wife- When he began teaching at the State University of New York (It’s a public college in the city Oswego), then they sold their family home and due household dispute they divorced each other in 1965.

Then he married his second wife (Dorothy Herzka) in 1968. In 1966, they rented a house that was situated in Southampton (Town located in the southeastern Suffolk country).

Larry Rivers (An American artist) had also bought home nearby their (Roy Lichtenstein & Dorothy Herzka) home.

But due to personal reasons, they left this home and shifted to another home that was situated at Gin Lane.

Roy Lichtenstein also had a home in Captiva Island(Florida). After 1970 to till death, Roy Lichtenstein spent his life in Southampton and Manhattan.

Pneumonia was the cause of his death. Roy Lichtenstein died in 1997 at New York University Medical Center. He had been hospitalised here for several weeks, but due to severe lung infection, we lost this artist.

Both wives of Roy Lichtenstein:

  • Isabel Wilson (1949–1965)- (Divorced- 2 children)
  • Dorothy Herzka (1968–1997)- (Till his death)

Later work

Los Angeles County Museum of Art commissioned Roy Lichtenstein in 1970 for his Art and Technology program. He had developed this art program between 1967 and 1971 to produce/direct a film.

Roy Lichtenstein had produced the series of Masterpieces (most demanded series at that time) with the collaboration of Mondrian (Dutch painter & Theoretician), Cezanne (French artist & Post-impressionist painter) and Picasso (Spanish painter).

After successful work with these artists, Roy Lichtenstein embarked the “Brushstrokes series” in 1965. In many paintings of Roy Lichtenstein, we see the depictions of his Masterpiece and Brushstroke series.

He had also continued this theme in later artworks such as painting on canvas with oil and Magna. This series name was “Bedroom at Arles”, and these paintings were based on the previous series made by Vincent Van Gogh.

In the artwork of Roy Lichtenstein, we see the significant influence of many pop art artists and op art artists such as- Mondrian, Cezanne, Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh.

  • Mr Bellamy (1961)
  • Electric Cord (1961)
  • Ten Dollar Bill (1956)
  • I Can See the Whole Room…and There’s Nobody in It!
  • Look Mickey (1961)
  • Roto Broil (1961)
  • Masterpiece (1962)
  • Portrait of Madame Cézanne (1962)
  • Jet Pilot (1962)
  • Kiss II (1962)


German photographer, Fritz Gunter Sachs had given artwork to Roy Lichtenstein, for which he was commissioned by German photographer (Fritz Gunter Sachs) in 1969.

Fritz Gunter Sachs had said to create artwork for the collector’s Pop Art (similar to Dadaism) bedroom suite at the Badrutt’s Palace Hotel in Switzerland.

Roy Lichtenstein major commissions during the 1980s for work in public places such as- Mermaid (1979) in Miami Beach, Lamp (1978) in St. Mary’s, Georgia and 26 feet tall Brushstrokes (1984) at Port Columbus International Airport.

Roy Lichtenstein had worked with car manufacturing company BMW. In 1977, he painted Group 5 Racing Version of BMW. German automaker BMW had manufactured this car.

The manufacturer of this car had paid commission (art fees) for the painting on this car.

Following are the artworks for Roy Lichtenstein– For which, he had received a hefty amount of money.

Georgia; Mermaid (1979)-  This big sculpture (640 cm × 730 cm × 330 cm) is located in Miami Beach (Jackie Gleason Theatre). It’s a big statue in which Roy Lichtenstein had used raw material such as steel, polyurethane, palm tree, concrete and enamel. It was his first art commission.

Brushstrokes in Flight (1984)- Roy Lichtenstein had made this sculpture in 1984. Still, you can see this sculpture at the John Glenn Columbus Airport. It includes several other sculptures and paintings.

Mural with Blue Brushstroke (1984–85)- It a mural painting that is located in the New York City (Atrium of the Equitable Tower). It was also the subject of Roy Lichtenstein’s book: “Mural with Blue Brushstroke”.


Roy Lichtenstein was the first pop art artist (American) who became first American to be exhibited at the United Kingdom gallery (Tate Gallery). Tate Gallery is an institution that is the network of four art museums.

The paintings of Roy Lichtenstein were featured at the Tate Gallery on the occasion of the show “54-64”. And his paintings got the title – Painting and Sculpture of a Decade, and this was also the name of Exhibition.

Pasadena Art Museum of California had held his first museum retrospective in 1967. Same year, Roy Lichtenstein’s first solo exhibition was held in Amsterdam.

After this success, Roy Lichtenstein participated in Documenta (Exhibition of contemporary art which takes place after every five years).

Following is the detail of exhibitions (Solo/Group) of Roy Lichtenstein with proper explanation.

Pasadena Art Museum- The member of this museum had organised Roy Lichtenstein’s first exhibition (Museum retrospective exhibition) in 1957. Pasadena Art Museum was its previous name, now its name is Norton Simon Museum. It’s an art museum situated in Pasadena (California).

Guggenheim Museum- This museum had arranged the first retrospective of Roy Lichtenstein in 1969. Diane Waldman had organised this programme. This museum is located in New York City and often referred to as “The Guggenheim”. It is located at 1071 Fifth Avenue (Corner of East 89th street- Manhattan). 

Museum of Modern Art- Roy Lichtenstein was the first living artist, for whom, Museum of Modern Art had exhibited solo drawing exhibition. This museum is located in Midtown Manhattan (New York City).


Roy Lichtenstein had received many various Honorary Doctorate degrees in various fields of art. Because this artist not only gave the contribution to the pop art movement (Painting, Depiction etc.), but he was also active in many programs such as charity shows, exhibitions, public art etc.

That’s why he had the recognition of many organisations, associations and concerned bodies to the pop art movement.

Following are the official bodies which still organise exhibition and auction ceremony for the paintings of Roy Lichtenstein and had given recognition to Roy Lichtenstein.

American Academy of Arts and Letters- It’s a 250 member honour society, it encourages artists for artwork. The Goal of this institution is to assist and foster excellence in American literature.

American Academy in Rome- It is located in Rome, and it’s a research and art institution. This academy is the member of the “Council of American Overseas Research Centers.

Brandeis University- This is an American research university. It was founded in 1948 as a co-educational institution. The Jewish Community sponsors it.

Honorary Doctorate degrees of Roy Lichtenstein:

Bard College, Royal College of Art (1993) – This is a Private liberal arts college of New York City. It is situated nearby Hudson River.

Southampton College (1980)- This college is located between Shinnecock Hills Golf Club and Shinnecock Indian Reservation.

The California Institute of the Arts (1977)- It’s a private university of Santa Clarita (California). It was the first institution incorporated in 1961 as the degree-granting institution (in higher learning) in the United States of America.

  • Skowhegan Medal for Painting in 1977
  • American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1979
  • American Academy in Rome in 1989
  • Creative Arts Award in Painting in 1991
  • Amici de Barcelona in 1993
  • Kyoto Prize in 1995
  • National Medal of the Arts in 1995

Authentication issues of Roy Lichtenstein paintings

There are many paintings and murals, but there is no catalogue raisonne. That’s why “Roy Lichtenstein Foundation” had decided that it would scale each painting of Roy Lichtenstein on the scale of authenticity-

Therefore in the year 1999, the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation was established to check the authenticity of paintings/depictions/murals of Roy Lichtenstein.

Because there is copious information about Roy Lichtenstein – About his personal life, sexuality, murals, paintings, collections etc., but lots of them are not authentic, and these are imitations of Roy Lichtenstein’s original artworks.

Work of Roy Lichtenstein Foundation:-

Electric Cord (1961)- This painting had been missing since 1970. That’s why Roy Lichtenstein Foundation had started the search operation.

It gave an advertisement in media- Whoever provides the information about this painting that would be awarded. After cumbersome seach.

This foundation authenticated the real piece of Roy Lichtenstein’s painting Electric Cord (1961).

Photographs of Harry Shunk- The Lichtenstein Foundation acquired all photographs of Harry Shunk. Because these photographs were related to Roy Lichtenstein life.

And this institution donated these photographs to five institutions-

  • The National Gallery of Art of Washington.
  • The Tate of London.
  • Getty Research Institute of Los Angeles.
  • The Centre Pompidou of Paris.
  • The Museum of Modern Art of New York.

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