Painting: Kidding Everybody

"Why, Brad darling, this painting is a MASTERPIECE!" exclaims a luscious blonde in one of Roy Lichtenstein's celebrated "comic strip" canvases of 1962. "My, soon you'll have all of New York clamoring for your work." Pure boasting? At the time, yes. Lichtenstein's first pop paintings were derided as belonging to the "King Features school," and a bad joke. Today, it's all the way to the bank. At 43, Lichtenstein is a pop hero: half a dozen museums own his work, his every show is a sellout, and his prices have jumped tenfold,...

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