Subject Material

V. Roy Lichtenstein, Whaam!

Published: 11.08.2009, Updated: 03.03.2017
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American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein is most famous for his paintings of dramatic comic book frames.

Roy Lichenstein
Forfatter: NKI Forlaget

In his work he kept the comic strip’s thick, black lines and strong colors. An important feature of Lichtenstein’s paintings is the shading technique, which makes use of small colored dots (called benday dots).

What is Pop Art?

Short for popular art, Pop Art is a largely British and American art movement that started in the 1950s. It represented a new kind of art, which could appeal to everyone, and not just to a snobbish elite. Many claim that Jasper Johns laid the groundwork for the American Pop Art movement, which was carried on by such artists as Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. These artists took mass-produced products and immortalized them in their work, giving the viewer a fresh perspective on the disposable objects we surround ourselves with.

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Whaam!

Lichtenstein's Whaam! 

Lichtenstein’s Whaam! from 1963 speaks for itself. The image is taken from a 1962 frame from D.C. Comics’ All American Men of War, a popular series which ran through the 1940s to the 1960s. The text of the pilot: "I pressed the fire control.. and ahead of me rockets blazed through the sky…" brings us straight into the action.

Discussion/Speaking

  1. Take a good look at Whaam! and describe what has happened here.
  2. Imagine and act out the conversation between the pilot and ground control. Make sure to convey a sense of urgency in your voice.
  3. Discuss the title, Whaam! An "a" has been added to the word “wham” for emphasis, and the exclamation mark adds even more punch. What else could this painting be called? Use your imagination and come up with a few alternate titles. Are any of them as effective as Whaam!?

 

Hopeless

Lichtenstein's Hopeless 
The word "melodrama" is used to describe a situation which is highly emotional. Examples of melodrama can be found in romantic, sensational story lines like the ones found in television soap operas, courtroom dramas, and made-for-TV movies. Some examples of modern TV melodrama are The O.C., Gossip Girl, Grey’s Anatomy and the Norwegian soap Hotel Cæsar. The melodramatic scene presented in Lichtenstein’s Hopeless (1963) was common in romance comic books.

 

The Psychology of Pictures

Discuss

What tells us that the young woman’s misery has been caused by troubles in her love life, and not something else? How can we tell that there is a man, probably a boyfriend, involved here?

Write a Story or Make a Comic Strip

Without the rest of the comic strip, it is hard to know what has been going on, but the viewer still can relate to the young woman’s despair. Use your imagination and make up a story explaining the situation. You can write a story, or present it in comic-strip form, making drawings (either stick figures or more elaborate sketches, depending on your drawing skills!) and adding speech and/ or though bubbles.