The left-hand panel shows a fighter plane firing a rocket that, in the right-hand panel, hits a second plane which explodes in flames. Lichtenstein conceived the image from several comic-book panels. He transformed his primary source, a panel from a 1962 war comic-book, by presenting it as a diptych while altering the relationship of the graphical and narrative elements. Whaam! is regarded for the temporal, spatial and psychological integration of its two panels. The painting’s title is integral to the action and impact of the painting, and displayed in large onomatopoeia in the right panel. The irony was that Lichtenstein wasn’t a fan of popular culture at all. His widow said he described himself as high-brow. So what was he doing playing around with comic books?! Lichtenstein himself says he was casting about for a despicable subject matter in an avant-garde reaction against an art world that seemed to accept everything. “It was hard to get a painting despicable enough so that no one would hang it – everybody was hanging everything. It was almost acceptable to hang a dripping paint rag. The one thing that everyone hated was commercial art; apparently they didn’t hate that enough either.”
This work is presented in separate frames and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. This work was published by the Tate Gallery, London 1986 – paper trimmed to image.