Pop Art was created in the 1950s (and it was still thriving throughout the 1960s) by young art students in Britain and North America who felt that the strict rules that they were taught in art school did not reflect their emotions, their everyday lives or their interests. So, these art students created their own artistic movement.
This is the Pop Art movement and it is so called because it blurred the boundaries between art and popular culture. Though executed with high levels of formal skill, Pop Art in its finished form is bright, bold and easily consumable much like a label on a mass produced product, a billboard poster or a cartoon.
Varoom is one of Lichtenstein's most recognisable works, and it is also perhaps the work that best exemplifies the ways in which Pop Art utilised the techniques of other genres of drawing like cartoons.
Varoom depicts an explosion, and it does so by integrating visuals (the bangs and flashes of an explosion drawn in bold, sharp colours) and words. The word 'Varoom!' is placed right in the centre of the painting. Words in speech bubbles or in large block like text is often a feature of Lichtenstein's art, and the words are often drawn with as much care as the other visuals.
Varoom was first painted in 1963. This first version had an exclamation mark after the word Varoom. In 1965, Lichtenstein painted another version if this piece which was almost identical save for the fact that it had no exclamation mark in.
The two versions of the work are often differentiated as 'Varoom!' and 'Varoom, No Exclamation Mark'. In the period when he was creating Varoom, Lichtenstein was also starting to experiment with sculptures in steel and enamel. The chunky three dimensional lettering in Varoom clearly shows that Lichtenstein was poised to make that crucial move from the flat surface of the page to the three dimensionality of sculpture in the early to mid 60s.