Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) was born in New York City, the son of a successful real estate developer, As a boy Lichtenstein had a passion for both science and comic books. In his teens, he became interested in art.
Lichtenstein attended Ohio State University in Columbus. His college studies were interrupted in 1943, when he was drafted. In 1946, he returned to Ohio to complete his undergraduate degree and master's degree—both in fine arts.
In the late 1940s, Lichtenstein often took his artistic subjects from mythology and from American history and folklore, and he painted those subjects in styles that paid homage to earlier art, from the 18th century through modernism.
Roy began experimenting with different subjects and methods in the early 1960s, His newer work was both a commentary on American popular culture and a reaction to the recent success of Abstract Expressionist. Instead of painting abstract, often subject-less canvases as Pollock and others had had done, Lichtenstein took his imagery directly from comic books and advertising.
Inspired by advertisements and comic strips, Lichtenstein became a leading figure of the new Pop Art movement. His bright, graphic works parodied American popular culture and the art world itself. His best-known work from this period is "Whaam!," and ''Drowning Girl'' which he painted in 1963, which are generally regarded as his most famous works. Lichtenstein became known for his subversive way of mass-reproduced images.
''When I used cartoon images,
I used them ironically, to raise the question:
Why would anyone want to do this with modern painting?'
By the mid-1960s, he was nationally known and recognized as a leader in the Pop Art movement that also included Andy Warhol, James Rosenquist and Claes Oldenburg.
By the late 1960s, Lichtenstein stops using comic book sources. In the 1970s, his focus turned to creating paintings that referred to the art of early 20th century masters like Picasso, Henri Matisse, Fernand Léger and Salvador Dalí. In the 1980s and '90s, he also painted representations of modern house interiors, brush strokes and mirror reflections, all in his trademark, cartoon-like style. He also began working in sculpture.
Although Lichtenstein was made famous for his artworks that featured comic books as his sources, he eventually stopped this technique during the latter parts of the 1960s. During the 1970s, the artist became more drawn towards creating artworks that had references to various artists in the 20th century. These artists whom he referred most of his masterpieces to included Salvador Dali, Claude Monet, Picasso and Vincent van Gogh.
Lichtenstein died of complications from pneumonia on September 29, 1997.