Roy Lichtenstein: Bull Profile Series (1973)

Like Haystack, Lichtenstein’s Bull Profile Series acts as a reference to another great twentieth-century artist’s work. In the case of Bull Profile it is Pablo Picasso and his 1945 Le Taureau (Mourlot 17). In referencing Picasso’s work, Lichtenstein creates a witty Pop Art reinterpretation of the seminal work.

Picasso’s Le Taureau is a progression from naturalism to radical simplification through eleven successive re-workings. In the final impression, the bull is pared down to its basic essence, embodying virility and strength. The progression of Picasso’s Le Taureau is the result of the lithographic process, from the repeated erasures and re-drawing of the image. Lichtenstein’s Bull Profile Series, on the other hand, was pre-conceived, and based on drawings that the artist had rendered beforehand. Unlike Le Taureau, which represents a progressive abstraction invested with personal symbolism, the Bull Profile Series is only a playful obscuring of the bull’s shape until it is virtually indistinct. The combination of screenprint, line-cut, and lithography, along with the use of bright, primary colors, creates a graphically slick appearance, in keeping with the rest of Lichtenstein’s body of work. The Bull Profile Series consists of 6 prints, and was printed and published by Gemini G.E.L in Los Angeles in 1973. (Corlett 116-121).


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