Roy Lichtenstein’s Head With Feathers And Braid is from a body of work titled American Indian Theme series. Lichtenstein first contemplated Native American heritage and culture in his American Indian Encounters of the 1950s, and made use of an abstract painterly format. The artist’s revision of the topic from the 1980s, however, features decorative motifs rendered into simplified pop versions of their original historical sources.
In line with Lichtenstein’s American Indian Theme VI, the main faux wood imprinted composition of Head With Feathers And Braid is fixed upon a white background. A yellow braid pokes through its punctured upper left corner, crowned by two feathers arranged into a pyramid. As opposed to the gouged wooden indentations used in other editions of the series, the particular relief process of intaglio applied here produces defined but scarce areas of shading. Aquatint was applied in conjunction with the etching, producing areas of tone and texture rather than definite outlines.
In Head With Feathers And Braid, Lichtenstein allows the forms to exist without relying on an overarching narrative. The work is purposely made devoid of recognisable human presence. Instead, the decorative motifs are the actors of the artist’s illustrated drama.