Roy Lichtenstein's 'Whaam!' Back on Display at Tate Liverpool

Roy Lichtenstein’s Whaam! (1963) on display at Tate Liverpool
Roy Lichtenstein’s Whaam! (1963) on display at Tate Liverpool | © Tate Liverpool, Roger Sinek

Art & Design Editor

If you do one thing this spring, go see Roy Lichtenstein’s Whaam! (1963), which recently went on display at Tate Liverpool as part of the gallery’s 30th anniversary.

Arguably the American pop artist’s most famous painting along with his Drowning Girl (1963), Lichtenstein’s Whaam! has been on public display pretty much constantly since it was purchased by the Tate in 1966.
Based on an image from DC comic All American Men of War, Whaam! represents Lichtenstein’s fascination for the detached treatment of emotionally charged subjects such as war, love and hate in mass-produced graphic cartoon imagery.

Roy Lichtenstein, Whaam! 1963

As with his other pantings that used appropriated imagery from comics or advertising, Lichtenstein amended the original composition, altering perspective, colour scheme and choice of text. Composed over two canvases, Whaam! condenses the intensity of the original comic image to really focus on the explosion and the choice of parodying idiom.
Retaining the same style of commercial printed media, Lichtenstein painted every dot and line by hand. By doing this, the artists subverts the aesthetic processes of four-colour separation, so the once technologically rendered images reverted to the action of the artist, the individual.

Detail of Roy Lichtenstein, We Rose Up Slowly, 1964
Conservation science researcher Angelica Bartoletti (right) and paintings conservator Rachel Barker during the cleaning treatment of Whaam!

Artist Rooms: Roy Lichtenstein In Focus is at Tate Liverpool, Albert Dock, Liverpool Waterfront, Liverpool L3 4BB until June 17, 2018.
Want to see more major art events from around the world? Check out Katharina Grosse’s mega installation at Carriageworks in Sydney.

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