Roy Lichtenstein was born in New York in 1923. As a teenager he took art classes at Parsons School of Design, and the Art Students League. In 1940 he enrolled in a fine art degree at Ohio State University in Columbus before being drafted and sent to Europe during the Second World War. He returned to Ohio in 1946 to complete his undergraduate and master's degrees, before taking up various jobs including working as a window-display designer in a department store, as did his contemporaries Warhol and Rosenquist, an industrial designer and a commercial-art instructor.
In 1957 Lichtenstein returned to New York where he taught industrial design. During this period he began to experiment with different subjects, taking mass-produced imagery from comic books and advertising. He made his first ‘pop art’ painting, Look Mickey, in 1961. The following year Lichtenstein was included in the important exhibition, Six Painters and the Object, at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, alongside Andy Warhol, Jim Dine and Jasper Johns.
A major exponent of Pop Art, Lichtenstein worked in a variety of media, and was particularly innovative in the field of printmaking. In 1968 he began working on his first series of prints with Gemini G.E.L. in Los Angeles, often experimenting with unconventional, commercially fabricated materials to achieve optical effects. Lichtenstein went on to make further prints with Tyler Graphics, New York, and Graphicstudio, Florida, in a series called Brushstroke Figures, (1987-89) which was distributed by Alan Cristea.
In 1966 he was one of five artists selected to represent the USA at the Venice Biennale. The late 1960s also saw Lichtenstein’s first museum surveys: in 1967 the Pasadena Art Museum, California, initiated a traveling retrospective, in 1968 the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, presented his first European retrospective, which travelled to the Tate Gallery, and in 1969 he had his first New York retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, where he was honoured with a second retrospective in 1993. The National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C, hosted the first comprehensive survey of his prints in 1994, and in 1995 Lichtenstein was presented with the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton.
Lichtenstein died aged 77 in New York in 1997.