Happy Tears (Roy Lichtenstein)

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Happy Tears
Happy Tears.jpg
ArtistRoy Lichtenstein
Year1964 (1964)
MovementPop art
Dimensions96.5 cm × 96.5 cm (38 in × 38 in)

Happy Tears is a 1964 pop art painting by Roy Lichtenstein. It formerly held the record for highest auction price for a Lichtenstein painting.


Lichtenstein in 1967

On November 13, 2002, Happy Tears surpassed Kiss II, which had sold for $6.0 million in May 1990,[1] by selling for $7.1 million at Christie's auction house in New York.[2] In November 2005, the 1963 work In the Car surpassed Happy Tears' Lichtenstein work record auction price, when it sold for $16.2 million.[3][4]

Happy Tears was acquired at the Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, in 1964. It did not change hands until it was sold again on November 13, 2002, at auction at Christie's in New York.[5] The owner lent this work for exhibition twice in the late 1960s. From November 1967 to May 1968, the exhibit made stops at the Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), Tate Gallery (London), Kunsthalle Bern (Bern), and Kestner-Gesellschaft (Hannover). From September to November 1969, it was exhibited at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.[5] It was then displayed at the Gagosian Gallery in New York City in 2008.[6][7]

When the American independent comedy-drama film entitled Happy Tears, starring Parker Posey, Demi Moore, Rip Torn, Sebastian Roché,[8] and Ellen Barkin, which was written and directed by Roy Lichtenstein's son, Mitchell Lichtenstein,[9] was marketed, the film poster prominently included the image of his father's work. The film was named after this painting.[10]


After 1963, Lichtenstein's comics-based women "look hard, crisp, brittle, and uniformly modish in appearance, as if they all came out of the same pot of makeup." This particular example is one of several that is cropped so closely that the hair flows beyond the edges of the canvas.[11] The image is made more poignant by the cropping and positioning of the fingers.[12] The woman exudes a sense of relief over something that is outside the canvas.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "$6 Million Is Paid For Lichtenstein". Miami Herald. May 9, 1990. p. 5D. Retrieved May 17, 2012. (Subscription required (help)).
  2. ^ "Auction record for pop artist". BBC News. November 15, 2002. Retrieved May 15, 2012.
  3. ^ Melikian, Souren (November 10, 2005). "Record $22.4 million paid for a Rothko". The New York Times. Retrieved May 17, 2012.
  4. ^ Kelly, Tara (November 11, 2010). "Lichtenstein Tops Warhol in Auction". Time. Retrieved May 17, 2012.
  5. ^ a b "Sale 1150 / Lot 30: Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997): Happy Tears". Christies. November 13, 2002. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
  6. ^ "Roy Lichtenstein at Gagosian: "Happy Tears" (1964)". The New York Times. June 10, 2008. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
  7. ^ Smith, Roberta (June 11, 2008). "The Painter Who Adored Women". The New York Times. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
  8. ^ Leslie Felperin (February 11, 2009). "Happy Tears". Variety. Retrieved June 7, 2012.
  9. ^ Dargis, Manohla (February 19, 2010). "The Many Shades of Family Dysfunction". The New York Times. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
  10. ^ Anderson, Melissa (February 16, 2010). "Mitchell Lichtenstein Continues Bad Filmmaking with Happy Tears". Village Voice. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
  11. ^ Coplans (ed.). p. 23. Very often a head is cropped to such an extent that the hair flows outside the borders of the format ... Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ Coplans (ed.). p. 40. ... in Happy Tears (1964) the cropped fingers enhance the poignancy of the image. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. ^ Tøjner, Poul Erik (2003). "I Know How You Must Feel ...". In Holm, Michael Juul; Poul Erik Tøjner; Martin Caiger-Smith. Roy Lichtenstein: All About Art. Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. p. 19. ISBN 87-90029-85-2. There are close-up studies of melodramatic studies of melodramatic behavior like Frightened Girl or Happy Tears, both from 1964, but even here the narrative horizon is close at hand ... the happy girl radiates relief over something or someone that is no longer – or perhaps precisely is – out of the picture


  • Coplans, John, ed. (1972). "Introduction, Biographical Notes, Chronology of Imagery and Art". Roy Lichtenstein. Praeger Publishers.

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