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Whaam! The Art and Life of Roy Lichtenstein

Whaam! The Art and Life of Roy Lichtenstein

by Susan Goldman Rubin

The life of the great Pop Art painter Roy Lichtenstein, illustrated with his most famous artworks.

In the newest of Abrams’ award-winning line of picture book biographies of artists, Susan Goldman Rubin evocatively explores Roy Lichtenstein’s work and life and his groundbreaking influence on the art world. In Roy’s long career as a


The life of the great Pop Art painter Roy Lichtenstein, illustrated with his most famous artworks.

In the newest of Abrams’ award-winning line of picture book biographies of artists, Susan Goldman Rubin evocatively explores Roy Lichtenstein’s work and life and his groundbreaking influence on the art world. In Roy’s long career as a teacher, artist, and innovator, he changed the way that people thought about art and how artists thought about their subjects, challenging people to see familiar sights with new eyes.

Classically trained in painting and drawing, Roy found inspiration from cartoons, newspaper comics, and children’s books—images most people didn’t consider “serious” art. He also chose to paint, in meticulous detail, the building blocks of painting—a single brushstroke or the back of a canvas—drawing attention to the way that artists use these tools. Roy and the other Pop Artists, including Andy Warhol, broke down the rules about what makes proper subjects for fine art. In over a thousand paintings and numerous other works, Roy brought familiar images into new light and captured the imagination of the world. The book includes a bibliography, an index, and a list of museums where you can see Lichtenstein’s work.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Leah Hanson
Whaam! Blam! Think you are trapped inside a comic book? Think again! The colorful, oversized Pop Art comic book paintings of artist Roy Lichtenstein have delighted, puzzled, thrilled, and even angered viewers ever since he first swept onto the art scene in the 1960s. In this biographical picture book, Rubin takes readers into the artist's studio to examine Lichtenstein's path to Pop Art hero. As a boy, Lichtenstein thought he wanted to be a scientist when he grew up, but at age 13, he began taking Saturday watercolor classes and soon decided art was his future. His early paintings featured fairy tales, historical subjects, and Native American Indian themes. Soon, however, cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck started sneaking into his work. Ironically, the kind of art that would eventually become synonymous with his name frightened him at first, and Lichtenstein was afraid to show this new work to others. However with the encouragement of a friend and inspiration from a Dubble Bubble gum wrapper, Lichtenstein began creating oversized cartoon-like paintings. He then went on to explore the process used in the newspaper printing business of creating color out of tiny dots—a process that he simulated with paint on a grand scale. For the next thirty years, Lichtenstein enjoyed "making art out on ‘non-art.'" The engaging text, subtle page borders of tiny dots of color, bright art reproductions, and comic book-like font all come together to create an enjoyable and entertaining portrait of the artist and leave readers hankering for more. Reviewer: Leah Hanson
VOYA - Timothy Capehart
In 1961, after years of training and teaching, Roy Lichtenstein's son David reportedly came home from school and complained that when his teacher asked the students to tell what their fathers did for a living, everyone else's Dad had a more interesting job, "And you're an artist and you can't draw." David was likely referring to the childlike, modern paintings of cowboys and fantasy figures his father was producing at the time. It was shortly after that Lichtenstein began to create his now signature series of Pop Art paintings that are based on cartoons, comics, and ads. This brief overview of the artist's life and work does an excellent job of explaining how Lichtenstein's art differed from his friend Andy Warhol's work even though they were part of the same movement. The addenda are also excellent and include page notes on quotations, articles, videos, CDs, interviews, and list of museums that hold his works. Also the further reading list has youth-friendly titles clearly marked. That said, the volume is short on pictures of the man; and the text abandons the chronological examination of his life in the late 1960s and loses focus. There is not a lot out there on Lichtenstein for young people, so even given these concerns this volume will likely be a welcome addition to most collections. Reviewer: Timothy Capehart
School Library Journal

Gr 4-8

Bold and graphic, with an attractive design, this title will appeal to budding artists and comic-book fans. The reproductions of Lichtenstein's work are large format, in full color, and provide eye candy for kids who aren't interested in reading the text. Cleverly inserted in between Lichtenstein's pieces are reproductions of the classic and comic-book art that inspired him, such as Henri Matisse's The Red Studio and even advertisements for shoes. Lichtenstein is known for his paintings inspired by comic books, but Rubin does an excellent job of mentioning his other work, such as his sculptures and landscape art. The insightful quotes and most of the references to his personal life serve only to explain how his art evolved or how he came to be in a particular place in the world. This approach is effective because the star here is the art and the process. The text (a bold typewriter font) is simple but descriptive and compelling. Lichtenstein's signature Benday dots appear in all of the page margins; even the page numbers are enclosed in circles. The back matter is exceptional as well, with a thorough glossary and index and an expansive list of additional resources. The thoughtful design and content show that the author truly had young people in mind while making this book.-Laura Lutz, Queens Borough Public Library, NY

Product Details

Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
10.20(w) x 10.20(h) x 0.60(d)
1030L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Susan Goldman Rubin has written a number of books for young readers, including Andy Warhol: Pop Art Painter; L’Chaim! To Jewish Life in America; Searching for Anne Frank; Margaret Bourke-White, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults; and Steven Spielberg: Crazy for Movies, named one of the New York Public Library’s Best Books for the Teen Age. She lives in Malibu, California.

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