Roy Lichtenstein’s highly acclaimed Surrealist series of the late 1970s demonstrates the artist’s proficiency in the language of modern art. Originating in the 1920s, surrealist artists delved into subconscious realities, stringing together peculiar types of imagery. Although the Surrealist prints copy the manner in which these artworks were created, the pictorial qualities of the sequence are literal rather than symbolical.
Beside pursuing a rereading of past artistic styles, the Surrealist prints invoke outstanding images from Lichtenstein’s own oeuvre. Accordingly, Figures, executed in 1978, suggests an abundance of referential meanings. The composition is firstly anchored in wildly opposing surrealist, cubist and abstract forms. In addition, Lichtenstein also integrates an icon borrowed from his concurrent American Indian series.
The artist situates his appropriated black and white faux-wood element in the foreground of the work, commanding in scale and assembled like a jigsaw puzzle. The perplexing cubic sculpture is regarded by a ghostly shape with orange hair, floating far off on the right-hand side of the horizon. A bright yellow abstracted form, akin to a faceless snake, is worming its way across the wooden structure’s base. Ultimately, the three-dimensional monument underscores the otherwise compressed spatial characteristics of Figure’s surrealist landscape.