Today is the birthday of cheeky comic fan and masterful pop artist, Roy Lichtenstein. The American painter, known for his extravagant use of onomatopoeia and Ben-Day dots, would turn 89 if he were still alive today.

roy lichtenstein


The New York City-born artist rose to fame in the 1960s, riding the wave of pop art mania that carried contemporaries like Andy Warhol and James Rosenquist into the art world spotlight. His work, appropriated from the pages of America's favorite comic strips, was characterized by black contours, bright colors and dynamic images.

Appearing like photographic reproductions of DC hallmarks, the large-scale paintings were an accesible alternative to high art, seemingly loved by tastemakers and amateurs alike. Despite a harshly critical 1964 article by Life magazine (“Is He the Worst Artist in the U.S.?”), the masterpieces of Lichtenstein have proved to possess a staying-power most artists would kill for. He is currently being honored in a traveling retrospective, showing now at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; a show that prompted New York Times writer Holland Cotter to label Lichtenstein as an "American classic."

Check out images from the retrospective below and let us know how you are celebrating the pop fiend's birthday in the comments section.

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  • Roy Lichtenstein, American (1923-1997). Masterpiece, 1962. Oil on canvas. 137.2 x 137.2 cm (54 x 54 in). © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. Agnes Gund Collection, New York.

  • Roy Lichtenstein, American (1923-1997). Oh, Jeff...I Love You, Too...But..., 1964. Oil and Magna on canvas. 121.9 x 121.9 cm (48 x 48 in). © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. Collection Simonyi.

  • Roy Lichtenstein, American (1923-1997). Sunrise, 1965. Oil and Magna on canvas. 91.4 x 172.7 cm (36 x 68 in). © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. Private Collection.

  • Roy Lichtenstein, American (1923-1997). Nude with Street Scene, 1995. Oil on Magna on canvas. 121.9 x 171.5 cm (48 x 67 1/2 in). © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. Collection Simonyi.

  • Roy Lichtenstein, American (1923-1997). Whaam!, 1963. Magna and oil on canvas. 172.7 x 406.4 cm (68 x 160 in). © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. Tate: Purchased 1966. Photo ©Tate, 2011.

  • Roy Lichtenstein, American (1923-1997). Keds, 1961. Oil on canvas. 123.2 x 88.3 cm (48.5 x 34.75 in). © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. The Robert B. Mayer Family Collection, Chicago, Illinois, USA.

  • Roy Lichtenstein, American (1923-1997). Artist's Studio No. 1 (Look Mickey), 1973. Oil, Magna, sand with aluminum powder and Magna medium on canvas. 243.8 x 325.1 cm (96 x 128 in). © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. Collection Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Gift of Judy and Kenneth Dayton and the T.B. Walker Foundation, 1981.

  • Roy Lichtenstein, American (1923-1997). Alka Seltzer, 1966. Graphite and lithographic rubbing crayon pochoir, with scraping, on cream wove paper, fixed. 76.2 x 55.9 cm (30 x 22 in). © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. Art Institute of Chicago, Margaret Fisher Endowment.

  • Roy Lichtenstein, American (1923-1997). Landscape in Fog, 1996. Oil and Magna on canvas. 180.3 x 207.6 cm (71 x 81.75 in). © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. Private Collection.

  • Roy Lichtenstein, American (1923-1997). Look Mickey, 1961. Oil on canvas. 121.9 x 175.3 cm (48 x 69 in). © National Gallery of Art. The National Gallery of Art. Dorothy and Roy Lichtenstein, Gift of the artist, in Honor of the 50th Anniversary of the National Gallery.

  • Roy Lichtenstein, American (1923-1997). The Ring (Engagement), 1962. Oil on canvas. 121.9 x 177.8 cm (48 x 70 in). © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. Stefan T. Edlis Collection.


"Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective" includes exhibits at The Art Institute of Chicago (May 22–September 3, 2012); National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (October 14–January 13, 2013); Tate Modern, London (February 21–May 27, 2013); and Centre Pompidou, Paris (July 3–November 4, 2013).

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