In his 1989 Brushstroke Faces series, Lichtenstein reconsiders the artistic gesture of brushstrokes, as idolised by the abstract expressionists in the 1940s and 1950s. The compositions in this series waver between the figurative and the abstract. The works offer a comment on painting itself, beside exploring the art historical conventions awarding superiority to the so-called ‘high art’ of the past.
Portrait employs a compact format and muted colour scheme comparable to Blue Faceand Green Facefrom the same series. Intersecting brushstrokes in eggshell, mint green and ash brown span the centre of the canvas. However, as opposed to the aforementioned works, Liechtenstein’s traditional red Ben Day dots and blue stripes are firmly incorporated in the main composition of Portrait. Additionally, a considerably enlarged flat sweep of bright yellow on the right hand side of the print, similar to the one featured in Blonde, bears the distinct cartoonish signature of the artist.
The production of this print combined a number of different printing processes, including lithography, screen print and woodcut. Beeswax was employed for the lithographs in this series, as an alternative to printer’s ink. This in turn induced a polished surface texture once printed on the exquisite watercolour paper utilised by the Brushwork Faces series.