Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) began his formal artistic training at the Ohio State University in Columbus from 1940-1943. Following his studies, Lichtenstein served in the military during World War II until 1946 where he returned to Columbus to complete his Master of Fine Arts in 1949. During this early stage in the artist’s career, his style and subject matter were primarily influenced by biomorphic abstraction and artists like Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky, and Joan Miró.
During the 1950s, Lichtenstein was heavily influenced by Abstract Expressionism and Cubism. From 1957 to 1963, Lichtenstein taught at the State University of New York, Oswego followed by Rutgers University, New Jersey; knowledge gained from teaching would also inform his practice. As the sixties approached his output of abstract canvases also began to include loosely drawn cartoon characters. Lichtenstein realized forms of visual communication were changing and as a result, he became increasingly interested in the themes of domesticity found in advertising and other images created by hired draughtsmen rather than creative artists.
In 1961, Lichtenstein began to exclusively create works that mimicked commercial printing techniques by appropriating images from comic strips and advertisements. To achieve the look of commercial processes, the artist used Ben-Day dots, thick black lines, text balloons, and hand lettering. The difference however, was that each image was meticulously created by the artist’s hand.
Leo Castelli Gallery in 1962 presented Lichtenstein’s first solo exhibition of Pop art. As Lichtenstein gained popularity in the United States and internationally, he continued to closely imitate appropriated comics in addition to looking back into the history of art and imitating works by great artists such as Picasso and Monet.