The strategies of printmaking are fundamental to the visual language of Roy Lichtenstein. Peace Through Chemistry IV, executed in 1971,is from a five part sequence composed of four prints and one bronze plate. The bold artwork repurposes the inescapable imagery of commercial culture, thereby counteracting notions of fine art.
Peace Through Chemistry IV showcases a horizontal rectangle divided into three panels, akin to a triptych. Each third is halved by a strong diagonal line running across it. The print depicts a schematised progression, starting with natural imagery and concluding with a portrait of scientific growth. The artist uses elementary symbols to mark the different themes. The curvature of nature’s forms on the left counterbalances the angular industrial components in the middle and on the right.
This print exhibits limited fields of primary colour and eventually fades to black and white entirely. As a matter of fact, Lichtenstein treats the whole canvas in the same sparing manner. Peace Through Chemistry IV is an abstracted version of the other compositions from the same series. Nevertheless, the print wraps up the sequence neatly, pinning humanity against machinery. It ultimately functions as a printed mural, ridiculing industrialisation’s claim that peace is achievable through a scientific approach.