Modern Print of 1971 is one of Roy Lichtenstein’s most abstract works, created in a manner that actively obliterates painterly gestures. Another similar work is Banner IV, completed a couple of years prior. In both prints, the artist focuses on evoking a smooth superimposition of vivid colours and calculated patterns. Lichtenstein’s use of mixed media ensures the superbly gesture-free finish of both prints.
Modern Print’s composition is set on a red and blue dotted backdrop. Flat and unmodulated areas of black and white geometrical shapes populate the canvas. Red, blue, and bright yellow diagonals cut across these forms, evoking a repetitive and intense pattern. The busy picture plane balances the bold lines against the dotted background and the straight geometrical edges. As a result, the work ultimately captures an interplay between dynamic versus static elements.
Modern Print was conceived entirely in the spirit of Lichtenstein’s newfound referential mode of expression. The print draws first and foremost on the fundamentals of Cubism and Constructivism, setting a precedent for Lichtenstein’s later Modern Head series. However, the work is also a fusion of visuals abstracted from commercial design. More specifically, the composition blends forms borrowed from the streamlined art deco style of the 1930s.