Roy Lichtenstein’s Bulls series from 1973 is an exploration of art forms and printing techniques in transformation. 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). Lichtenstein’s Bull Profile series is a gentle parody of their visual search for true form, presumed to be achievable through abstraction.
In this final impression of the bull the composition is pared down to its essence. Bull VI has very little to do with the preceding forms of Bull V, although the main elements remain more or less pushed towards the right of the canvas. The work is scaled back entirely and its overall impression is therefore airy and uncrowded. Lichtenstein has increased the application of yellow throughout the sequence, and so the bright pigment accentuates the majority of the composition in Bull VI. The blue elements and the focal point have disappeared completely and have been replaced by coordinated and fixed red and black lines.
Lichtenstein perfectly maps a visual progression from naturalism to radical simplification in Bulls series, employing a deliberate combination of lithography, screen print and line cut. Bull VI has at last transformed the realistic image of the bull into a mere abstract cypher.