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Artist: Roy Lichtenstein
Created: 1962
Dimensions (cm): 203.2 x 172.7
Format: Oil on canvas
Location: Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, USA


Artist Roy Lichtenstein painted ‘Blam’ in 1962 using the Benday dot technique, a printing process that consisted of numerous colored dots, which either stood alone or overlapped each other to create a picture. This technique was very popular in producing the comic strips of the 1950’s and 1960’s.

‘Blam’ is a monumental painting depicting an airplane that has been shot down in the midst of war. The plane has been flipped over from the impact of the missile. The words of the same name as the painting are in bold red color amidst the yellow, red and black of the fire. The word Blam, together with the blatant display of explosion, emphasizes the sound and force of the attack. The shadow of the pilot emerging through the escape hatch at the bottom right hand corner of the canvas leaves the viewer in suspense regarding the pilot’s survival.

The painting’s creation is based on the early war comics produced in 1962, more specifically on the “All American Men of War” Issue number 89, by Russ Heath in January –February of that same year. Of comical interest is that, early in his career, Roy Lichtenstein was dared by his children to paint a picture that was as amusing as their comic books. The result of this dare actually changed Lichtensten’s life as he continued to produce comic-style paintings with great success.

Analysis and Quotes

“Roy Lichtenstein was the master of the stereotype, and the most sophisticated of the major Pop artists in terms of his analysis of visual convention and his ironic exploitation of past styles. The work for which he is now known was the product of a long apprenticeship.” – Edward Lucie-Smith, “Lives of the Great 20th-Century Artists”

Referring to the lack of symbolist meaning in his art work, Lichtenstein said, “I'm not really sure what social message my art carries, if any. And I don't really want it to carry one. I'm not interested in the subject matter to try to teach society anything, or to try to better our world in any way.”

‘Blam’ by Roy Lichtenstein is currently located at the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, U.S.A.


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