Roy Lichtenstein’s Early Pop Art Masterpieces

In this 1966 video featuring American pop art legend Roy Lichtenstein, the artist explains his approach to creating his comic strip paintings and other works that not only parodied a commercial style, but were also created in that style. By joining flat areas of color and pulp-inspired Ben-Day dots, Lichtenstein alluded to “modern industrial textures,” removing all nostalgia and reference to European and American painting up to his time.

The National Gallery of Art is honoring the artist’s work in a major retrospective that will include more than 100 paintings from various points in Lichtenstein’s career. Works include his early pop art masterpieces like Look Mickey — which pioneered the style Lichtenstein is now famous for — to his, perhaps, lesser known Chinese landscapes, drawings, and sculptures.

The show marks the first major exhibition since Lichtenstein’s death in 1997 — a period during which the painter was focused on nude portraits — and gives visitors a chance to get close to some rarely seen pieces. While Lichtenstein’s best has been mined for card shop collectibles, umbrellas, and t-shirts — alongside fellow pop art star Andy Warhol — the NGA aims to shed light on the 20th-century artist in a broader context.

The museum was kind enough to share a preview of Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective with us, which we’ve featured past the break. Visit the National Gallery of Art from October 14 through January 13 to see more great artworks.

Roy Lichtenstein
Masterpiece, 1962
oil on canvas
overall: 137.2 x 137.2 cm (54 x 54 in.)
Agnes Gund Collection, New York
© Estate of Roy Lichtenstein