In 1951, Lichtenstein came back to New York City and had his first one-man show. He also continued to teach, first at the New York State College of Education at Oswego, and later at Douglass College, a division of Rutgers University in New Jersey.
Through the 1950s, Lichtenstein used the basic techniques of abstract expressionism, but incorporated into his compositions such themes as cowboys and Indians and paper money. In 1961, however, while at Douglass College, impressed by the work of colleague Allan Kaprow, he turned to the use of comic-strip and cartoon figures by which he is known today. Flatten... sandfleas (1962, Museum of Modern Art) was the first important example of his new style.
Primary colors--red, yellow and blue, heavily outlined in black--became his favorites. Occasionally he used green. Instead of shades of color, he used the benday dot, a method by which an image is created, and its density of tone modulated in printing. Sometimes he selected a comic-strip scene, recomposed it, projected it onto his canvas and stenciled in the dots. "I want my painting to look as if it had been programmed," Lichtenstein explained.
In the late 1970s, this style was replaced with more surreal works such as Pow Wow (1979, Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen). In 1977, he was commissioned by BMW to paint a Group 5 Racing Version of the BMW 320i for the third installment in the BMW Art Car Project. In addition to paintings, he also made sculptures in metal and plastic including some notable public sculptures such as Lamp in St. Mary’s, Georgia in 1978, and over 300 prints, mostly in screenprinting.
His painting Torpedo...Los! sold at Christie's for $5.5 million in 1989, a record sum at the time, making him one of only three living artists to have attracted such huge sums. In 1996 the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. became the largest single repository of the artist's work when he donated 154 prints and 2 books. He died of pneumonia in 1997 at New York University Medical Center
Works by this artist…
As I Opened Fire( ref : 12720 )