Pop icon Roy Lichtenstein is known for his prints and paintings inspired by commercial and popular culture. Although all of his work maintains a certain air of parody, the thematic contents of his early works differ greatly from his later artistic output. HisThe Cattle Rustler from 1958 is a distinct pre-pop work blending naturalistic and stylised forms of expression.
Recreating the disposition of Lichtenstein’s previous Knight With Lady (Knight and Lady), this boldly gouged woodcut was manufactured on milky white drawing paper. The work’s delineated pictorial elements manifest Lichtenstein’s proficiency in art history. In line with Approaching The Castle, the present work combines the formal attributes of Abstract Expressionism and Cubism. Incorporating themes of mythology and folklore, the print pokes fun at traditional paintings depicting cowboys. In utilising pigments like mustard and grey, The Cattle Rustler mirrors the colour palette of 15th century textiles and tapestries.
This simplistic composition captures a cow thief mid-flight. He points a gun while fleeing the scene, seated on a horse but facing its rear, his face covered by a bandana. Akin to Indians Pursued By American Dragoons, the print’s elementary forms are imbued with a whimsical quality, elevating its overall impression from serious to comedic.