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This wall-mounted sculpture was based on a painting made two years earlier, entitled 'Varoom'. The source image for both works was an illustration in a popular boys' comic that focused on the Second World War. Like all of Lichtenstein's work this sculpture is ironic. The steel mesh suggests cloud, but it also alludes to the Benday dots used in the printing of comics and newspapers. However, the sculpture has no relation to that process and, indeed, the dots were barely visible in the original illustration. Made at a time when the USA was heavily involved in the Vietnam War, this sculpture can be seen as anaesthetising violence, turning a destructive explosion into a simplified icon of beauty.

September 2004