Roy Lichtenstein: History in the Making, 1948–1960

February 11, 2021 - June 6, 2021

Lower Jette Galleries, Upper Jette Galleries

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.


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. See more.


History in the Making: The Soundtrack

Roy Lichtenstein was an avid jazz fan and frequently attended live concerts. Our Museum Student Guides have created a playlist of some of the artist’s favorite music, selected from a list of his record collection. Listen now on Spotify


History in the Making: The Documentary

This video, produced by our partners at the Nasher Museum, examines the period before the dot; that is, Lichtenstein’s signature use of Benday dots in his later paintings, offering an understanding of the crucial role this work played in his maturation into one of the masters of Pop art. The human story that emerges is relatable to any viewer who grew into a profession over the course of many years.


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. Get your copy today.


Related Events

Virtual Opening Celebration

Celebrate, from the comfort of your home, our new exhibitions, Roy Lichtenstein: History in the Making, 1948–1960 and Miracles on the Border: Retablos of Mexican Migrants to the United States. Take a deep dive into the exhibitions with videos and slideshows that offer a close-up look at the artworks, create your own works of art, enjoy themed party treats, preview upcoming events, and more
 

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

Watch a pre-recorded conversation between Elizabeth Finch and Marshall N. Price, co-curators of Roy Lichtenstein: History in the Making, 1948–1960. They will discuss the little-known early career of the Pop art legend and their collaborative work on this groundbreaking exhibition, which begins its national tour at the Colby College Museum of Art.
See more. 

SLICE: From the Bayeux Tapestry to the Comic Strip

Have you ever thought about making your own comics but didn’t know where to start? This program answers these questions and more. Roy Lichtenstein was inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry in his early career. This famous work of art from the 11th century, also known as the Bayeux Embroidery, has been described as an early incarnation of the comic strip.
Read more.

 


Roy Lichtenstein: History in the Making, 1948–1960 is co-organized by the Colby College Museum of Art and 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, 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.

Mickey Mouse I, c. 1958. Pastel, charcoal, brush and india ink on paper. 19 1/16 x 25 in. (48.4 x 63.5 cm). The Morgan Library & Museum, New York. Gift of the Roy and Dorothy Lichtenstein Collection, 2014.38. © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein

Washington Crossing the Delaware II, c. 1951. Oil on canvas. 24 1/8 x 30 1/8 in. (61.3 x 76.3 cm). The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation Collection, New York© Estate of Roy Lichtenstein

Pilot, c. 1948. Pastel, graphite pencil on colored paper. 10 1/2 x 13 3/4 in. (26.7 x 34.9 cm). Collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. The Roy Lichtenstein Study Collection; gift of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, 2019.43. © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein