Roy Lichtenstein was born in 1923, in New York City. In 1939 he studied under Reginald Marsh at the Art Students League in New York, and the following year under Hoyt L. Sherman at the School of Fine Arts at Ohio State University, Columbus. He obtained an M.F.A. in 1949. In 1951 the Carlebach Gallery, New York, organized a solo exhibition of his semi-abstract paintings of the Old West. Shortly thereafter, the artist moved to Cleveland, where he continued painting while working as an engineering draftsman to support his growing family.
In 1961 he began to make paintings consisting exclusively of comic-strip figures, and introduced his Benday-dot grounds, lettering, and balloons; he also started cropping images from advertisements. From 1964 and into the next decade he successively depicted stylized landscapes, consumer-product packaging, adaptations of paintings by famous artists, geometric elements from Art Deco design (in the Modern series), parodies of the Abstract Expressionists' style (in the Brushstrokes series), and explosions. They all underlined the contradictions of representing three dimensions on a flat surface.