Nazmiyal's Collection of Vintage Rugs by Roy Lichtenstein
One of the first pop artists to find a national audience, Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) was acclaimed for creating art that was as controversial as it was bold. His large-scale masterpieces were an imposition of color and shape, influenced by a variety of artistic styles, from Impressionism to Cubism, Surrealism and Expressionism. Reflecting on the themes that became synonymous with his work, he noted ironically: “All abstract artists try to tell you that what they do comes from nature and I'm always trying to tell you that what I do is completely abstract.”
Born and raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Lichtenstein's family was financially comfortable and stable. As a child, he sampled the delights of the city, which included jazz concerts at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, as well tours of its prestigious museums. As a teenager, he became interested in watercolor and immersed himself in his craft at Parson's School of Design. Later, he studied fine arts at Ohio State University, where he earned both a bachelor's and master's degree. Lichtenstein's early career was spent exploring traditional artistic subjects, including folklore and mythology. By the 1960's he began to carve out his own artistic voice, deconstructing iconic images that were popular in cartoon strips. His first solo exhibition in 1962 elevated him to national prominence, a position he held throughout his distinguished career.
Lichtenstein's work was an ironic commentary on 'low art' forms that were culturally ubiquitous. Some of his most famous pieces represent cartoon images that utilize a Ben-Day dots technique, a printing method common in pulp comic books. Often, he would reconstruct a comic image in dots, emphasizing primary colors (red, yellow and blue). Then he would line the forms with heavy strokes of black. Later in his career, he began to focus on sculpture, painting on everyday objects such as lamps and coffee cups. Lichtenstein also provided designs that would result in some truly exceptional rugs. He also played with space, using mirrors to create a sense of form outside the artistic frame. In one of his last series, he created home interiors that were inspired by yellow page ads from a telephone book.
Lichtenstein spent most of his working career in New York, dividing his time between a house he owned on Long Island and an apartment in Manhattan. Before his death, he donated 154 of his paintings to the National Gallery of Art, however, art historians estimate that there are thousands of his paintings and sculptures worldwide. Unfortunately, one of these paintings, The Entablature Series, was destroyed on September 11th, 2001, as a result of the attacks on the World Trade Center. Lichtenstein's contributions to contemporary art continue to reverberate in the art world. Although his subject matter often mined the trivial, his engagement with the artifacts of social custom expanded our definition of art, making him one of the most relevant and important figures of the 20th Century.