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Roy Lichtenstein

National Portrait Gallery

Roy Lichtenstein

National Portrait Gallery
Artist Roy Lichtenstein peers from behind a wide brush dripping with paint in this 1985 photograph by Abe Frajndlich. Celebrated as one of the founders of the American pop art movement, Lichtenstein worked for almost two decades as a realist painter and then as an abstract expressionist before debuting in 1962 the work for which he would be best remembered: oversized compositions based on popular advertisements and comic book illustrations. Appropriating both the content and the style of these lowbrow graphic traditions, Lichtenstein employed brightly colored Ben Day dots in rendering subjects best known in the comics. The work represented everything that abstract expressionism was not and helped to precipitate a sea change in American art. As painter Larry Rivers suggested, "Roy got the hand out of art, and put the brain in."

Roy II

National Portrait Gallery

Robert F. Kennedy

National Portrait Gallery
The Democratic presidential primaries of 1968 were darkened by the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., race riots, and protests against the Vietnam War. For the May 24 cover that year, Time magazine featured Senator Robert Kennedy, who was attracting crowds of supporters with his antiwar stance and support of racial equality. The cover artist, Roy Lichtenstein, was as famous and controversial as Kennedy. Beginning in 1961, Lichtenstein had shocked the sensibilities of the art world by basing his pop art paintings upon comic-book illustrations and advertisements. Lichtenstein rarely chose real people as subjects, but he was intrigued by Kennedy's "lively, upstart quality and pop-heroic proportions as part of a legend." In this key drawing for the cover's color separations, Lichtenstein portrayed Kennedy as a cartoon-perfect champion of truth and justice, just weeks before the senator's assassination.

Robert F. Kennedy

National Portrait Gallery
The Democratic presidential primaries of 1968 were darkened by the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., race riots, and protests against the Vietnam War. For the May 24 cover that year, Time magazine featured Senator Robert Kennedy, who was attracting crowds of supporters with his antiwar stance and support of racial equality. The cover artist, Roy Lichtenstein, was as famous and controversial as Kennedy. Beginning in 1961, Lichtenstein had shocked the sensibilities of the art world by basing his pop art paintings upon comic-book illustrations and advertisements. Lichtenstein rarely chose real people as subjects, but he was intrigued by Kennedy's "lively, upstart quality and pop-heroic proportions as part of a legend." In this key drawing for the cover's color separations, Lichtenstein portrayed Kennedy as a cartoon-perfect champion of truth and justice, just weeks before the senator's assassination.

Robert F. Kennedy

National Portrait Gallery
The Democratic presidential primaries of 1968 were darkened by the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., race riots, and protests against the Vietnam War. For the May 24 cover that year, Time magazine featured Senator Robert Kennedy, who was attracting crowds of supporters with his antiwar stance and support of racial equality. The cover artist, Roy Lichtenstein, was as famous and controversial as Kennedy. Beginning in 1961, Lichtenstein had shocked the sensibilities of the art world by basing his pop art paintings upon comic-book illustrations and advertisements. Lichtenstein rarely chose real people as subjects, but he was intrigued by Kennedy's "lively, upstart quality and pop-heroic proportions as part of a legend." In this key drawing for the cover's color separations, Lichtenstein portrayed Kennedy as a cartoon-perfect champion of truth and justice, just weeks before the senator's assassination.

Robert F. Kennedy

National Portrait Gallery
The Democratic presidential primaries of 1968 were darkened by the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., race riots, and protests against the Vietnam War. For the May 24 cover that year, Time magazine featured Senator Robert Kennedy, who was attracting crowds of supporters with his antiwar stance and support of racial equality. The cover artist, Roy Lichtenstein, was as famous and controversial as Kennedy. Beginning in 1961, Lichtenstein had shocked the sensibilities of the art world by basing his pop art paintings upon comic-book illustrations and advertisements. Lichtenstein rarely chose real people as subjects, but he was intrigued by Kennedy's "lively, upstart quality and pop-heroic proportions as part of a legend." In this key drawing for the cover's color separations, Lichtenstein portrayed Kennedy as a cartoon-perfect champion of truth and justice, just weeks before the senator's assassination.

Robert F. Kennedy

National Portrait Gallery
The Democratic presidential primaries of 1968 were darkened by the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., race riots, and protests against the Vietnam War. For the May 24 cover that year, Time magazine featured Senator Robert Kennedy, who was attracting crowds of supporters with his antiwar stance and support of racial equality. The cover artist, Roy Lichtenstein, was as famous and controversial as Kennedy. Beginning in 1961, Lichtenstein had shocked the sensibilities of the art world by basing his pop art paintings upon comic-book illustrations and advertisements. Lichtenstein rarely chose real people as subjects, but he was intrigued by Kennedy's "lively, upstart quality and pop-heroic proportions as part of a legend." In this key drawing for the cover's color separations, Lichtenstein portrayed Kennedy as a cartoon-perfect champion of truth and justice, just weeks before the senator's assassination.

Robert F. Kennedy

National Portrait Gallery
Time magazine’s editors commissioned Roy Lichtenstein to create this cover portrait of Senator Robert Kennedy for its May 24, 1968, edition. It was issued in the midst of a turbulent presidential primary season when Kennedy was challenging President Lyndon Johnson for the Democratic Party’s nomination. Lichtenstein’s Pop Art style and bright colors create a sense of energy as it captures Kennedy’s image in the midst of a campaign speech. Kennedy responded in a bemused telegram: “I thought your cover picture was really marvelous, but I don’t have red spots all over my face.”

On June 5, 1968, just a few weeks after publication of the issue, Kennedy was assassinated while campaigning in Los Angeles. Time commissioned another cover from Lichtenstein to highlight the issue of gun control. A gun pointed at the viewer, though drawn in the same cartoon-like style as the Kennedy portrait, seemed haunting.

Robert F. Kennedy

National Portrait Gallery
The Democratic presidential primaries of 1968 were darkened by the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., race riots, and protests against the Vietnam War. For the May 24 cover that year, Time magazine featured Senator Robert Kennedy, who was attracting crowds of supporters with his antiwar stance and support of racial equality. The cover artist, Roy Lichtenstein, was as famous and controversial as Kennedy. Beginning in 1961, Lichtenstein had shocked the sensibilities of the art world by basing his pop art paintings upon comic-book illustrations and advertisements. Lichtenstein rarely chose real people as subjects, but he was intrigued by Kennedy's "lively, upstart quality and pop-heroic proportions as part of a legend." In this key drawing for the cover's color separations, Lichtenstein portrayed Kennedy as a cartoon-perfect champion of truth and justice, just weeks before the senator's assassination.

Robert F. Kennedy

National Portrait Gallery