Following a visit to Los Angeles in 1978, Roy Lichtenstein became fascinated by a collection of German expressionist prints and illustrations. A couple of years later, he decided to inspect the visual language of Expressionism in greater depth. The culmination of this exploration was his seven part Expressionist Woodcut series of 1980.
Lichtenstein mainly focused on imitating the techniques and materials utilised by the expressionists. While his use of distinct shading and defined shapes evoke the lyricism expressed by these artists, the rich colouring and schematic forms suggest pop influences.
Lichtenstein drew attention to the surface of his Expressionist Woodcuts in a manner that denied their inherent woodcut quality. He considered it a real achievement that he could employ this particular printing process, without it resulting in the usual woodcut finish.
That being said, his print Morton A. Mort incorporates an exaggerated wood grain design as its background. The title “A. Mort” is a play on the word “amort” which means being on the cusp of death. Seen from afar, this could be the portrait of a green hilly landscape with billowing grey clouds above. Upon further scrutiny, however, one discovers that the work in fact depicts a hollow cheeked figure on his deathbed.