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Bull Profile Series (C. 116-121)

ROY LICHTENSTEIN Bull Profile Series (C. 116-121) the complete set of six prints in colors (one line-cut in black, one lithograph and line-cut in black and blue and four lithograph, line-cut and screenprints), 1973, on Arjomari, each signed and dated in pencil, each numbered 61/100 (one numbered 61/1000; there were also 13 artist's proofs for each), published by Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles, with their blindstamps and inkstamps on the reverse, the full sheets, generally in good condition, each framed Each S. 27 x 35 in. (686 x 889 mm.) (6)

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Lot Essay

Lichtenstein's Bull Profile Series references Picasso's famous treatment of this subject in 1945, Le Taureau. In Picasso's rendering the bull is gradually simplified through eleven successive re-workings of the lithographic stone from a naturalistic depiction of the animal to a mere cypher. In the final impression the bull is pared down to its essence, an archetype embodying virility and strength. This progression from naturalism to radical simplification is intimately associated with the lithographic process, the refinement of the image through repeated erasure and re-drawing on the stone. By contrast Lichtenstein's series is pre-conceived, based on collages and drawings which he had executed beforehand. Rather than reflecting a visual search for the bull's true form through abstraction, the Bull Profile Series is a gentle parody of such grand aspirations. The prints are graphically slick, using a combination of screenprint and lithography, with the addition of line cut, a process more often associated with commercial printing. There is no history of the image's development, no investing of the subject with personal symbolism, only a playful obscuring of the animal's shape, until it is rendered indecipherable in a colourful arrangement of geometric shapes. The series encapsulates David Sylvester's observation in an article in American Vogue in 1969 that 'Lichtenstein takes soulful subjects and paints them with cool'.

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