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A departure from his typically graphic artistic tropes, Lichtenstein’s Seven Apple Woodcuts demonstrate an unusual visual and stylistic fusion. At the beginning of his career, the artist exclusively utilised elements of popular culture. Eventually, art history also proved a useful source of inspiration for him.
Lichtenstein adopted various modes of representation, ambitiously challenging the divide between highbrow and lowbrow art. Disrupting artistic conventions from the inside out, his appropriated topics and styles allowed the artist to resonate with a wider audience.
Lichtenstein’s main artistic purpose was to grant easy access to the realms of contemporary art. He therefore developed a notorious comic book aesthetic. The artist’s signature style consisted of block colours, geometric shapes, Ben Day dots and stripes.
These characteristics are entirely absent from his Seven Apple Woodcuts from 1983. In fact, the series demonstrates a period of unusual stylistic fusion in the artist’s creative output.
The Seven Apple Woodcuts firstly examine the long-standing tradition of still life painting, as immortalised by renaissance and impressionist artists. In many respects, the woodcuts in this series appear as abstracted versions of Lichtenstein’s previous Six Still Lifes of 1974.
The Seven Apple prints employ off-white backdrops, devoid of any patterns. The sequence offers primary colours as well as pastel tones, arranged into energetic sweeps and elementary shapes.
The expressive brushstrokes utilised by Lichtenstein in this series resemble the painterly gestures exercised by abstract expressionists. As such, the Seven Apple prints constitute the conceptual predecessors of the artist’s Brushstroke Faces of 1989.