Lichtenstein received a M.F.A. degree from Ohio State University in 1949 and in 1951 he had his first one-man exhibition at the Carlebach Gallery in New York. In 1961 Lichtenstein began his first Pop paintings using cartoon images and techniques derived from the appearance of commercial printing. His first work to feature the large-scale use of hard-edged figures and Ben-Day dots was 'Look Mickey' 1961. In the same year he produced six other works with recognizable characters from gum wrappers and cartoons.
|1961 Look Mickey|
Lichtenstein had his first one-man show at the Castelli gallery in 1962 and the entire collection was bought by influential collectors before the show even opened.
Lichtenstein would say of his own work: Abstract Expressionists "put things down on the canvas and responded to what they had done, to the colour positions and sizes. My style looks completely different, but the nature of putting down lines pretty much is the same; mine just don't come out looking calligraphic, like Pollock's or Kline's."
When his work was first released, many art critics of the time challenged its originality. More often than not they were making no attempt to be positive. Lichtenstein responded to such claims by offering responses such as the following: "The closer my work is to the original, the more threatening and critical the content. However, my work is entirely transformed in that my purpose and perception are entirely different. I think my paintings are critically transformed, but it would be difficult to prove it by any rational line of argument".
Most of his best-known artworks are relatively close, but not exact, copies of comic book panels - a subject he largely abandoned in 1965.
In the 1970s and 1980s, his style began to loosen and he expanded on what he had done before. He produced a series of ‘Artists Studios’ which incorporated elements of his previous work. A notable example being 'Artist's Studio, Look Mickey' 1973, which incorporates five other previous works, fitted into the scene.
|1973 Artists Studio Look Mickey|
In the late 1970s, this style was replaced with more surreal works such as 'Pow Wow' 1979.
|1979 Pow Wow|
|1962 Takka Takka|
|1963 Image Duplicator|
|1963 In the Car|
|1964 Temple of Apollo|
|1966 Brushstroke with Spatter|
|1972 Bananas & Grapefruit|
|1972 Still Life with Goldfish Bowl and Painting of a Golf Ball|
|1973 Still Life with Crystal Bowl|
|1974 Cubist Still Life with Playing Cards|
|1979 Go for Baroque|
|1980 Jar and Apples|
|1983 Painting near Window|
|1997 Brushstroke Still Life with Lamp|