“As with other paintings, he made certain changes to the design as work on the painting progressed. The principal of these are the enlargement of the aeroplane on the left and the burst of flames on the right, to fill more of their respective canvases and bring them closer together” – [1].

We can’t know whether Lichtenstein deliberated over enlarging the aeroplane and the burst of flames, or whether it was a fairly quick decision – driven by a compositional imperative.

If his decision was driven by a compositional imperative, then it was an entirely natural reaction to the sketch. However, we should note that his concept and execution of “WHAAM!” is entirely unnatural.

Lichtenstein’s change is worth noting.

If Lichtenstein’s unconscious imperative hadn’t kicked-in, then we would have been left with a different, and arguably more knowing version of WHAAM!”

The void, the null, the nothingness, slap-bang in the centre of his composition, is the feature this Pop Art masterpiece lost.



[1] http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/lichtenstein-drawing-for-whaam-t01131