Roy Lichtenstein rose to prominence in the 1960s with his humorous cartoon imagery, promptly followed by his appropriations of art historical genres. His Modern Head series of 1970 references modern masters of Cubism, Constructivism and Art Deco among others. In addition to a set of five Modern Head prints, Lichtenstein also created a limited number of Modern Head sculptures.
The Modern Head prints seek to critically dismantle the history of modern art, through a formal idea particularly favoured by Lichtenstein; impure style. Accordingly, Lichtenstein’s Modern Heads are founded on both artistic and architectural sources. The prints allude to painterly gestures and sculptural anatomy, as well as facade ornamentations and sleek interiors.
Lichtenstein's Modern Head #3is purely black and white. This print is undoubtedly the most constructivist edition of the series, as it exhibits a human profile entirely reduced to mechanical parts. In addition, the work directly references the flat planes, precision and abstract geometric forms associated with 1930s design.Modern Head #3’s curvature owes its smoothness to the embossing and linocut employed by the artist. Incised on a sheet of linoleum, this printing method yields a greater variety of effects and finishes, on account of the flexibility and softness of the material.