US Stamps

Pop artist icon Roy Lichtenstein celebrated on five U.S. stamps April 24

Apr 4, 2023, 8 AM
Roy Lichtenstein, one of the pop art movement’s most influential contributors, will be celebrated April 24 when the United States Postal Service issues five commemorative forever stamps showcasing five of his vibrantly colored works.

By Charles Snee

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-97), an iconic member of the pop art movement, will be honored with five United States stamps to be issued April 24.

A first-day ceremony for the nondenominated (63¢) Roy Lichtenstein commemorative forever stamps is set for 11 a.m. local time in the Susan and John Hess Family Theater at the Whitney Museum of American Art, 99 Gansevoort St., in New York City.

The museum is perhaps the most appropriate venue for the first-day ceremony because it houses 444 works by Lichtenstein in its collection.

Tom Marshall, general counsel and executive vice president of the U.S. Postal Service, will serve as the dedicating official.

The USPS encourages anyone desiring to attend the ceremony to register online. Each attendee may invite up to three additional guests, the Postal Service said.

Shown here is the Postal Service’s preliminary image of the five stamps, arranged as a se-tenant (side-by-side) strip of five.

From left to right, the stamps picture the following works by Lichtenstein: Standing Explosion (Red), porcelain enamel on steel, 1965; Modern Painting I, acrylic, oil, graphite pencil on canvas, 1966; Still Life with Crystal Bowl, acrylic, oil, graphite pencil on canvas, 1972; Still Life with Goldfish, acrylic, oil, graphite pencil on canvas, 1972; and Portrait of a Woman, acrylic, oil, graphite pencil on canvas, 1979.

“With their trademark heavy black outlining, intense colors, dot patterns simulating four-color mechanical printing and machine-made quality, Lichtenstein’s paintings are instantly recognizable,” the Postal Service said in a March 21 press release.

Postal Service art director Derry Noyes designed the stamps. She told Linn’s Stamp News that she learned a great deal about Lichtenstein in a short period of time.

“I can’t say that I knew a lot about Roy Lichtenstein before working on this stamp assignment,” Noyes said. “I was mostly familiar with his comic strip parodies and the Ben-Day dots throughout.”

“I hadn’t taken the time to see the breadth and evolution of his work over a lifetime. And my learning curve was huge,” she recalled.

“His exploration and experimentation in sculpture as well as painting was huge, let alone the volume of his work. He clearly loved going to the studio to work/play every day. His sense of humor and wit are ever present. He was having fun.”

Noyes also shared some thoughts regarding how she selected artwork from Lichtenstein’s vast output.

“I narrowed it down to art that worked in a vertical format,” she said. “As always with multiple stamps on a pane it’s a juggling act of creating variety and unity all at once.”

“Included are still lifes, a portrait, a piece of sculpture and an abstract painting in the mix,” she said.

“And once I found the portrait of Lichtenstein alongside his sculpture that would fit in the selvage, that set the tone for the pane. It has the key elements in it; the primary colors, the Ben-Day dots, the strong graphic strokes and the energy. And it’s a particularly appealing portrait of the man who made this art.”

Noyes kept the typography “as low key as possible so that the art pops.”

“I wasn’t able to incorporate large swaths of his earlier art, (the comic strips,) but I think, overall, one gets the energy, the zest, and the breadth his work through these works of art,” she said.

“It’s a glimpse into an artist that one hopes will encourage more in depth exploration. He was quite a force.”

Banknote Corporation of America printed 18 million Roy Lichtenstein stamps that were processed into 900,000 panes of 20 for sale at post offices and other postal outlets nationwide.

The wide left selvage margin on the pane “features a photograph by Bob Adelman of Lichtenstein, his face framed by a model of his 1983 sculpture, Brushstrokes in Flight,” the USPS said. The artist’s name and birth and death years are printed up the left side of the vertical selvage.

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