Roy Lichtenstein’s 1980 Expressionist Woodcut series originated after one of his visits to Los Angeles. Inspired by German expressionist prints, the artist appropriated the stylistic elements applied by the expressionists, completing his own seven part woodcut sequence.
The portfolio of the Expressionist Woodcuts is made up of portraits, some reminiscent of Lichtenstein’s acclaimed comic strip icons of the 1960s, see Shipboard Girl as an example.
The Couple depicts two figures embracing, the female resting her hand on her companion’s face and neck. Blocks of yellow and black adorn the background. While Lichtenstein’s use of distinct shading and defined shapes evoke the lyricism expressed by expressionist artists, the rich colouring and schematic forms suggest pop influences. The appearance of this print oscillates between Pop Art and Expressionism, as a means to challenge high art in an age of mechanical reproduction.
Therefore, both the smoothly drawn stripes and the jagged contours of the figures signify the tone and texture of commercial printed materials. By drawing attention to its surface qualities, Lichtenstein aimed to strip the impression of this print from the implied emotiveness of expressionist artworks. There is no narrative, only surface, colour and a permeating sense of irony.