Roy Lichtenstein’s Modern Art I manifests a clever printed montage of the most recent creative trends defining modern art. Published in 1996, alongside another work entitled Modern Art II, the print was executed by the artist merely a year before his death in 1997. In his usual sardonic manner, Lichtenstein’s Modern Art prints concoct a parody of art history.
Modern Art I assemble iconic styles abstracted from different artistic movements and modern masters in particular. The print therefore reduces its source materials to essential aesthetic parts, examining the deconstructed features one by one. The artist then fuses these parts into assorted arrangements of lines, geometric shapes and figurative elements. At last, Modern Art I exhibits a multifaceted composition containing traces of Cubism, Constructivism and Surrealism.
In the artist’s hands the condensed characteristics of the modernists are transformed into slick contemporary cartoons. Using his Benday dots, blocks of colour and stark black outlines, Lichtenstein allows the subject matter to take on a story of its own. Modern Art I is more illustrative than Modern Art II, depicting pearls, comic book eyes, lips and locks of flowy hair, all compiled into one shattered portrait.