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Pop for the People: Lichtenstein in LA

Artistic Inspiration

“The purpose of my art is to show you there might be value in certain things that might be considered valueless.” – Roy Lichtenstein


Entry to Pop for the People exhibit

Renowned for his inventive interplay of line, dot and color, Roy Lichtenstein (1923–1997) shaped a new form of fine art with comic book-esque imagery, Pop Art and printmaking. The Skirball Cultural Center’s “Pop for the People: Roy Lichtenstein in L.A.,” which opened Oct. 7 and runs through March 12, explores how the artist made fine art accessible to the American public in ways that had not been achieved before. While the retrospective charts a range of periods in Lichtenstein’s personal life and career, it focuses on Lichtenstein’s L.A. work and its broader social and political impact.

The exhibit includes more than 70 of Lichtenstein’s works through four decades as well as features prints from Lichtenstein’s Bull Profile and Surrealist series, the iconic “Sunrise” and “Shipboard Girl," and “Whaam,” an influential lithograph of a fatal fighter-plane duel with a four-color, hard-edged explosion.


“Wallpaper with Blue Floor Interior” 1992
Roy Lichtenstein
Screenprint on waterleaf paper


“Reverie” & “Shipboard Girl” 1965
Roy Lichtenstein
Offset lithograph on white wove paper


Various works by Lichtenstein

The exhibit also illustrates the connection between Lichtenstein and the comic illustrations that made his work possible, with its commercial dot shadings and dialogue balloons. He turned the very spirit of comic books into the cutting edge of the avant garde.


Comic book art that inspired Lichtenstein ‘s Works


“Modern Art 1 & 2” 1996
Roy Lichtenstein
Screenprint on Lanaquarelle watercolor paper

Additional works demonstrate the depth and breadth of Lichtenstein’s oeuvre, from rare prints to paper plates, clothing and even turkey shopping bags.


Various clothes and home goods designed by Lichtenstein



“Gun in America” 1968
Roy Lichtenstein
Felt tip marker and graphite on paper

The exhibit showcases his portrait of Bobby Kennedy and the provocative Gun in America, both of which Time magazine commissioned while Kennedy was on the presidential campaign trail and then after the candidate was gunned down in Los Angeles. Both graced the cover of Time, publicizing Lichtenstein’s signature graphic style to a very wide readership and sparking a conversation about gun control that continues to this day.


Lichtenstein's life milestones in photographs


Bedroom at Arles interactive installation


The focal point of the exhibit is a three-dimensional, life-size re-creation of Lichtenstein’s 1992 “Bedroom at Arles,” which itself is a re-imagining of Vincent van Gogh’s series by the same name. The installation urges visitors to not just look at the art, but to inhabit it, reinforcing the “what’s mine is yours” ethos of the Pop Art movement. It’s reproduced in all its bright yellows and blues in three dimensions, so you can walk into it and even stretch out on Van Gogh’s bed.


Entry to Pop for the People exhibit

Pop for the People: Roy Lichtenstein in L.A. continues at the Skirball Cultural Center (2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90049) through March 12, 2017. For more information, visit

All photographs taken by Grace Lennon