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Head

Head
Signed Print

Roy Lichtenstein

Woodcut, 1980
Signed Print Edition of 50
H 84cm x W 69cm

Critical Review

Head, undoubtedly the most vivid and compelling woodcut of the series, shows a sharply carved imprint of a face with its gaze turned upwards. It is a real Picasso-esque creation, every element in the print being a different shape, adorned by various hues and patterns. The juxtaposition of the distinctly coloured forms, bold contours, smooth striped surfaces, simulated wood grains and the rough jagged lines all contribute to its powerful appearance.

Lichtenstein based his woodcuts on pencil sketches, which he enlarged with a projector, drawing the final image onto tracing paper. Using Baltic birch, a notably hard wood to gouge, he aimed to achieve the smoothest surface possible. He wanted to produce a print that exhibits only a few traces of the process through which it was manufactured.

The artist applied each colour successively, finishing off with the black contouring. This was quite a different approach compared to the working methods employed by the German expressionists. They tended to carve their images on the woodblocks directly, skipping the preparatory stages.