WASHINGTON (AP) — Famous for his dots and cartoons, Roy Lichtenstein leapt to the forefront of pop art, while his career also covered a broad range of subjects and styles. It even included the occasional nod to politics and history.
The first retrospective of Lichtenstein's career since his death in 1997 opens Sunday at the National Gallery of Art, which holds one of the largest collections of the artist's work. The show debuted in Chicago and will travel on to London and Paris next year.
It includes Lichtenstein's take on two famous pictures of George Washington and his use of the signs and symbols of power and war. The gallery has hung his print of the Oval Office as the show opens during election season.
Lichtenstein followed politics and made some images for political groups, but he didn't preach, said Jack Cowart, executive director of the Lichtenstein Foundation. In 1992, he was asked to create a poster for the Democratic National Committee and mixed imagery from the Nixon and Kennedy eras to create the scene. It eventually became a large-scale painting.
"He really was very much interested in the role of art," Cowart said. He believed that "if you make good art, it will make good sense, it will make good culture, and it will make for a good life."
Curators said Lichtenstein was much more than a painter of comics.
The exhibition follows his career from the 1950s, offering an extensive look at his various styles and interpretations. His first pop painting, "Look Mickey," is a centerpiece with Lichtenstein's riff on Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck that helped change notions about art.
A walk through his career includes paintings of a hot dog, an engagement ring and his memorable 1960s cartoons about war and romance. More surprising are his landscapes made of small dots created with metal screens, cartoon-style nudes, a series focused on brush strokes, and re-interpretations of works by Picasso, Cezanne and other artists.
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