Lichtenstein’s Seven Apple Woodcuts of 1983 is a humorous revision of two major art historical practices. The series firstly comments on the endurance of the still life genre, previously explored in his Six Still Lifesof 1974. Additionally, the sequence also functions as the predecessor of Lichtenstein’s later examination of painterly gestures, titled Brushstroke Faces from 1989.
Red Apple And Yellow Appleemploys Lichtenstein’s characteristic primary colour palette and exhibits the most three dimensional composition of the series. Black circular motions capture the shapes of the two apples side by side. The artist allows his colourful sweeps to flow in all directions, but keeps the outlines of the apples intact. The ascending brushstrokes are intersected by upward flowing ones, imbuing the work with a dynamic and unrefined quality.
The print is actively exploiting the abstract qualities of Lichtenstein’s own visual language, in order to parody art historical conventions granting authority to brushwork. The artist is directly critiquing the abstract expressionist belief that painterly gestures are guided by the subconscious. That being said, Lichtenstein keenly embraces a sense of technical finesse, with which he engages in a simulated process of still life painting. As a result, the beholder forgets that the print was in fact executed as a woodcut.