- Richard Hamilton (artist)
name = Richard Hamilton
Pimlico, London, England
birthdate = birth date|1922|02|24|mf=y
Pimlico, London, England
nationality = English
Collage, Painting, Graphics
works = "
Just What Is It that Makes Today's Homes So Different, So Appealing?"
Richard Hamilton (born
February 24 1922) is an English painter and collageartist. His 1956 collagetitled " Just What Is It that Makes Today's Homes So Different, So Appealing?", produced for the " This Is Tomorrow" exhibition of the Independent Groupin London, is considered by critics and historians to be one of the early works of Pop Art. Livingstone, M., (1990), "Pop Art: A Continuing History", New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.]
Born into a working class family, Richard Hamilton grew up in the
Pimlicoarea of London. Having left school with no formal qualifications Hamilton got work as an apprentice working at an electrical components firm. Here he discovered an ability for draughtsmanshipand began to do painting at evening classes at St Martin's School of Artwhich eventually led to his entry into the Royal AcademySchools. After spending the war working as a technical draftsman he re-enrolled at the Royal Academy Schools but was later expelled on grounds of "not profiting from the instruction", loss of his student status forcing Hamilton to carry out National Service. After two years at the Slade School of Art, University College, London, Richard Hamilton began exhibiting at the Institute of Contemporary Arts(ICA) where he also produced posters and leaflets and teaching at the Central School of Art and Design.
1950s and 1960s
Hamilton's early work was much influenced by
D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson's 1913 text "On Growth and Form". In 1952 at the first Independent Groupmeeting, held at the ICA, Hamilton was introduced to Eduardo Paolozzi's seminal presentation of collages produced in the late 1940s and early 1950s that are now considered to be the first standard bearers of Pop Art. [Tate Gallery Collection Reference [http://www.tate.org.uk/imap/imap2/pages/paolozzi.html] ] Also in 1952, he was introduced to the "Green Box" notes of Marcel Duchampthrough Roland Penrose, whom Hamilton had met at the ICA. At the ICA Hamilton was responsible for the design and installation of a number of exhibitions including one on James Joyceand "The Wonder and the Horror of the Human Head" that was curated by Penrose. It was also through Penrose that Hamilton met Victor Pasmorewho gave him a teaching post based in Newcastle-Upon-Tynewhich lasted until 1966. The post afforded Hamilton the time to further his research on Duchamp which resulted in the publication of a typographic version of Duchamp's "Green Box" in 1960. Hamilton's 1955 exhibition of paintings at the Hanover Gallerywere all in some form a homage to Duchamp. In the same year Hamilton organised the exhibition "Man Machine Motion" at the Hatton Galleryin Newcastle. Designed to look more like an advertising display than a conventional art exhibit the show prefigured Hamilton's contribution to This Is Tomorrowat London's Whitechapel Gallerythe following year.
The success of
This Is Tomorrowsecured Hamilton further teaching assignments in particular at the Royal College of Artfrom 1957-61 where he promoted David Hockneyand Peter Blake. During this period Hamilton was also very active in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmamentand produced a work parodying the then leader of the Labour Party Hugh Gaitskellfor rejecting a policy of unilateral nuclear disarmament. In the early 1960s he received a grant from the Arts Councilto investigate the condition of the Kurt Schwitters'Merzbau' in Cumbria. The research eventually resulted in Hamilton organising the preservation of the work by relocating it to the Hatton Gallery in the University of Newcastle. In 1962 his first wife Terry was killed in a car crash and in part to recover from this he travelled for the first time to the United States, where as well as meeting other leading Pop Artists he was befriended by Marcel Duchamp. Arising from this Hamilton curated the first and to date only British retrospective of Duchamp's work which also required Hamilton to make copies of "The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even" and other glass works too fragile to travel. The exhibition was shown at the Tate Galleryin 1966.
From the mid-1960s Hamilton was represented by
Robert Fraserand even produced a series of prints "Swingeing London" based on Fraser's arrest, along with Mick Jagger, for possession of drugs. This association with the 1960s Pop Music scene continued as Hamilton became friends with Paul McCartneyresulting in him producing the cover design and poster collage for the Beatles' " White Album".
Hamilton had also been the teacher of
Bryan Ferryand Nick de Villein Newcastle a few years before and his influence can be found in the visual styling and approach of Roxy Music.
1970s to present
During the 1970s Richard Hamilton enjoyed international acclaim with a number of major exhibitions being organised of his work. Hamilton had found a new companion in the painter
Rita Donaghand together they set about converting North End, a farm in the Oxfordshirecountryside, into a home and studios. Hamilton realised a series of projects that blurred the boundaries between artwork and product design including a painting that incorporated a state-of-the-art radio receiver and the casing of a Diab Computer. In 1977-8 Hamilton undertook a series of collaborations with the artist Dieter Roththat also blurred the definitions of the artist as sole author of their work. Since the late 1940s Richard Hamilton has been engaged with a project to produce a suite of illustrations for James Joyce's "Ulysses".
Associated with this, in 1981 Hamilton began work on a trilogy of paintings based on the conflicts in Northern Ireland after watching a television documentary about the protest organised by IRA prisoners in
Long KeshPrison, unofficially known as "The Maze". "The citizen" (1981-3) shows IRA prisoner Hugh Rooney from Belfast's Short Strand republican enclave, a "dirty protester" with long hair and a beard. Republican prisoners had refused to wear prison uniforms, claiming that they were political prisoners. Prison officers refused to let "the blanket protesters" use the toilets unless they wore prison uniforms. The republican prisoners refused, and instead smeared the excrement on the wall of their cells.
Hamilton explained (in the catalogue to his
Tate Galleryexhibition, 1992), that he saw the image of "the blanket man as a public relations contrivance of enormous efficacy. It had the moral conviction of a religious icon and the persuasiveness of the advertising man's dream soap commercial - yet it was a present reality". "The subject" (1988-9) shows an Orangeman, a member of the loyal order dedicated to preserve Unionism in Northern Ireland. "The state" (1993) shows a British soldier undertaking solitary patrol on a street. Critical responses to the works have been divided with those both on the political left and right accusing Hamilton of naïveté. "The citizen" was first exhibited alongside an installation of Rita Donnagh's drawings about the Maze.
During the 1980s Hamilton also voyaged into
industrial designand designed two computerexteriors: OHIO computer prototype (for a Swedish firm named "Isotron", 1984) and DIAB DS-101 (for Dataindustrier AB, 1986). As part of a television project Hamilton was introduced to the Quantel Paintboxand has since used this or similar devices to produce and modify his work.
In 1992 the
Tate Galleryin London organised a major retrospective of Hamilton's career with an accompanying catalogue. which provides the most comprehensive review of his career. In 1993 Hamilton represented Great Britain at the Venice Biennaleand was awarded the Golden Lion.
His definition of Pop Art from a letter to the Smithsons dated January 16, 1957 was - "Pop Art is: popular, transient, expendable, low-cost, mass-produced, young, witty, sexy, gimmicky, glamorous, and Big Business" - stressing its everyday, commonplace values.
Hamilton is also known as a prolific and groundbreaking
printmaker. Since making his first print in 1939, his graphic work has consistently pushed the boundaries of how prints and multiples are made. These works are shown by the Alan Cristea Gallery in London.
In February 2002, the
British Museumstaged an exhibition of Hamilton's illustrations of James Joyce's Ulysses, entitled "Imaging Ulysses". A book of Hamilton's illustrations was published simultaneously, with text by Stephen Coppel. In the book, Hamilton explained that the idea of illustrating this complex, experimental novel occurred to him when he was doing his National Servicein 1947. His first preliminary sketches were made while at the Slade School of Art, and he continued to refine and re-work the images over the next 50 years. Hamilton felt his re-working of the illustrations in many different media had produced a visual effect analogous to Joyce's verbal techniques. The "Ulysses" illustrations were subsequently exhibited at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, and the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam. The British Museum exhibition coincided with both the 80th anniversary of the publication of Joyce's novel, and Richard Hamilton's 80th birthday.
The Tate Gallery now has a comprehensive collection of Hamilton's work from across his career.
* Lucy R. Lippard, "Pop Art", London, Thames and Hudson, 1985
* Richard Hamilton, "Collected Words 1953-1982", New York, Thames and Hudson, 1983
* David Robbins (ed.), "The Independent Group: Postwar Britain and the Aesthetics of Plenty", MIT Press, 1990
* "Richard Hamilton" (exhibition catalogue), London, Tate Gallery, 1992
* Etienne Lullin, Richard Hamilton, Stephen Coppel (eds.), "Richard Hamilton: Prints and Multiples 1939-2002", Richter, 2004
* John Richardson, Richard Cork, Richard Hamilton, "Hamilton", Dickinson, 2006
* [http://www.tate.org.uk/magazine/issue4/popdaddy.htm Richard Hamilton: Pop Daddy, from an interview by Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Tate Magazine]
* [http://www.newleftreview.net/NLR25306.shtml Hal Foster, On the First Pop Age, New Left Review]
* [http://www.artfacts.net/index.php/pageType/artistInfo/artist/2296 exhibitions with Richard Hamilton]
* [http://www.simondickinson.com/index.php?id=5&year=&work=50 Hamilton New York 2006]
* [http://www.tate.org.uk/servlet/ArtistWorks?cgroupid=999999961&artistid=1244&page=1 Richard Hamilton works in the Tate Collection]
* [http://www.britishcouncil.org/arts-art-drawings-prints-and-multiples-imaging-ulysses.htm Richard Hamilton's illustrations of Ulysses]
* John-Paul Stonard (2007), PDFlink|1= [http://www.johnpaulstonard.com/John-Paul_Stonard/JOHN-PAUL_STONARD_files/Stonard_Hamilton.pdf "Pop in the Age of Boom: Richard Hamilton's ‘Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing?’"] |2=, "
The Burlington Magazine", September 2007
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