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modernhead.jpg

Modern Head, 1974/1989
Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997)
Location: Sachem Street at Hillhouse Avenue, below Science Hill

Crowning Hillhouse Avenue at the base of Science Hill stands Roy Lichtenstein’s Modern Head, a thirty-one-foot-tall stainless steel silhouette. Famous for his 1960s pop art paintings, which imitated the printed look of comic books, Lichtenstein often used his work to poke fun at existing trends in modern art. Translating the forceful brushstrokes of 1950s abstract expressionism into frozen comic book style allowed the artist to gently imply that such paintings had become familiar, formulaic, and meaningless. Similarly, Modern Head targets the mechanized style of purist painters like Fernand Léger, a bold look when introduced around 1920. Reproducing it in exaggerated scale with flashy, futuristic materials, Lichtenstein questioned this outdated, dehumanizing aesthetic’s continued domination of the definition of “modern” in the 1970s and 1980s. To commemorate the inauguration of Richard C. Levin, Ph.D. 1974, presented to Yale University in 1993 by Jeffrey H. Loria, B.A. 1962, and James Goodman