Roy Lichtenstein: History in the Making, 1948–1960

February 11–June 6, 2021

Upper and Lowe Jetté Galleries

Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, New York
August 1, 2021–October 24, 2021

Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio
March 4, 2022–June 5, 2022

Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
August 25, 2022–January 8, 2023

Co-organized by the Colby College Museum of Art and the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Roy Lichtenstein: History in the Making, 1948–1960 is the first major museum exhibition to investigate the early work of one of the most celebrated American artists of the twentieth century. It tells the overlooked story of Lichtenstein’s formative years and establishes a deeper understanding of postwar American art.

Featuring about 90 works, many of which are on public view for the first time, this unprecedented exhibition includes examples from all of the artist’s mediums–painting, sculpture, drawing, and printmaking–and demonstrates the formal invention and provocative nature of Lichtenstein’s early production.

Roy Lichtenstein: History in the Making, 1948–1960 reveals how Pop art emerged in dialogue with European modernism, American history painting, and a diversity of vernacular sources. Before 1960, Lichtenstein’s art was filled with characteristic humor and evoked many of the themes that would become synonymous with his later career.

Diver, c. 1948–49. Pastel on colored paper. 14 3/4 x 13 in. (37.5 x 33 cm). Collection of Joan Thomas. © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein

Diver c. 1948

Explore the Exhibition

See more examples of Lichtenstein’s early works and explore the exhibition’s themes, which range from the artist’s riffs on Medieval art from the context of the Midwest; his fascination with archetypes, American history, and the historical “VIP”; his early experiments in appropriation; and his playful foray into “pure” abstraction.

Related Media

Exhibition Trailer for Roy Lichtenstein: History in the Making, 1948–1960
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Roy Lichtenstein: History in the Making, 1948 – 1960

History in the Making: The Soundtrack

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SLICE: From the Bayeux Tapestry to the Comic Strip

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Art + Conversation: Roy Lichtenstein: History in the Making, 1948–1960

Art @ Home: Reimagine and Transform

RL 1360_Mickey Mouse I, c. 1958 copy
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Roy Lichtenstein: History in the Making, 1948–1960 Curator Q&A

Catalogue

Roy Lichtenstein: History in the Making, 1948–1960

By Elizabeth Finch and Marshall N. Price; contributions by Graham Bader, Ruth Fine, and Scott Manning Stevens

Rizzoli Electa | Hardcover | 224 pages | $55 US

Roy before he was Lichtenstein: the path to becoming a Pop Art titan began with Lichtenstein’s cycling through a provocative range of visual culture, from fairy tales and children’s and folk art to mythic forms of Americana, such as cowboys and Disney. This catalogue, with new scholarship by leading experts in the field, provides a new understanding of Lichtenstein’s influential techniques of appropriation and offers the opportunity to more fully assess the artistic and cultural dynamism of postwar America.

Venues

Roy Lichtenstein: History in the Making, 1948–1960 is co-curated by Elizabeth Finch, chief curator of the Colby College Museum of Art, and Marshall N. Price, Haemisegger Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. Support for this exhibition and its national tour is provided by the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation. Additional catalogue support is provided by the Wyeth Foundation for American Art.

At the Colby Museum, this exhibition and catalogue are generously supported by the Edward H. Turner Art Exhibition Fund, Ellerton and Edith Jette Fund for Art Conservation, Everett and Florence Turner Exhibition Fund, Hanzer Art Fund, The Jane L. Stradley Foundation Endowed Visual Arts Initiative, Joseph Coburn Smith Art Exhibition Fund, and Mirken Family Publications Fund.

Banner image: Variations No. 7 (detail), 1959. Oil on canvas. 48 x 60 in. (121.9 x 152.4 cm). Collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. The Roy Lichtenstein Study Collection; gift of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, 2019.277. © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein