Roy Lichtenstein was born in New York, into an upper-middle-class family and raised on the Upper West Side . He became interested in art at a young age. He was an avid jazz fan and as a teenager he frequently went to concerts at the Apollo Theater in Harlem where he did sketched the musicians performing. In his last year of high school, he enrolled in summer classes at the Art Students League of New York. His studies were interrupted when he was drafted and spent three years in the military in Europe during WWII. Upon returning he left New York to study at Ohio State University where he went on to teach for a decade.
He one of the most influential and innovative artists of the second half of the twentieth century and is preeminently identified with Pop Art, a movement he helped originate His success came when he created works based on imagery from comic strips and advertisements and rendered in a style mimicking the crude printing processes of newspaper reproduction. These paintings reinvigorated the American art scene and altered the history of modern art. Lichtenstein’s success was matched by his focus and energy, and after his initial triumph in the early 1960's, he went on to create more than 5,000 paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, murals and other objects celebrated for their wit and invention . In 1964, Lichtenstein became the first American to exhibit at the Tate Gallery, London .His works have been massively exhibited and collected by museums and galleries around the world. His most expensive piece , Masterpiece, was sold in 2017 for $165 million dollars by the art collector and patron Agnes Gund , placing it among the highest prices ever paid for an artwork. Ms. Gund parted with the painting to create Art for Justice Fund, that supports criminal justice reform and seeks to reduce mass incarceration in the United States.
The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation was created to further the education and promotion of the arts by awarding grants to organizations to assist in research, publication activities and funding acquisitions. The foundations philanthropic work has extended far beyond those perimeters. In 2017 they donated funds to the Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico to support keeping the museum open as a community resource and refuge during the Puerto Rico recovery period .
Roy Lichtenstein received the National Medal of Arts and the Kyoto Prize among many awards, and he was awarded honorary Doctorates from six universities including the Royal College of Art in London.