Dated 1973, Roy Lichtenstein’s Bulls series is a study of the correlation between figuration and abstraction. More specifically, it seeks to map the transformation of art forms, as well as the evolution of various printing techniques. In this series, Lichtenstein draws primarily on Theo van Doesburg’s pencil studies, The Cow (1916-17), and Pablo Picasso’s lithographs, The Bull (1945-46). Both artists abstracted the image of the animal in order to find its truest form.
Bull I is the first of the six part multimedia prints constituting the Bulls series. It is the most technical and figurative print in the series, depicting the animal in all its anatomical glory. The bull is situated at the very centre of the work, composed of perfectly defined black contours and fine inner lines. The composition is highly symmetrical and there is a strong juxtaposition between the dark coloured subject matter and the empty white background.
This emphasises the focal point of the print; the systematic portrayal of the bull. Lichtenstein’s dedication to Pop Art is evident in the calculated disposition and proportion of the figure. The stylised black and white patterning in Bull I, achieved through the process of line cut, evokes the surface finish most commonly attributed to woodcuts or line engravings.