b. 1978, United Kingdom

Anthea Hamilton Biography

Working across sculpture, installation, photography, video, and performance, contemporary artist Anthea Hamilton fuses images and materials in unexpected and playful ways, and employs the theatrical, comic, and monumental to create works that have a popular-culture or Surrealist look. Her artwork is often set in amusing scenes that are intended to engage the viewer with their combination of elements of design, fashion, nature, and oversized representation.

Read More

Hamilton graduated from the Royal College of Art and was was shortlisted for the 2016 Turner Prize, for which she presented Lichen! Libido! (London!) Chastity!, a re-staging of her solo exhibition at New York's SculptureCenter. The Turner Prize installation featured her larger-than-life sculpture Project for Door (After Gaetano Pesce) (2016): a gigantic pair of buttocks jarringly embedded in a brick wall. The sculpture is a physical realisation of a project that the Italian designer Gaetano Pesce proposed for the design of a building doorway in 1972. Rendered in a bold and direct manner, the artist's exaggerated remake is intended to disrupt the hierarchies between the body and the intellect, and high and low cultures. Alongside the buttocks as an object of provocation and resistance, images, design, and materials travel between the works and around the space—bricks become a suit hung against a wall covered by brick-patterned wallpaper, for example.

The ways in which the images of contemporary life function are central to Hamilton's artistic exploration. Images are often cut up, enlarged, or transposed onto other things. Blown-up images of the bust of John Travolta have been a ubiquitous presence in her shows. In Yogic Travolta Screensaver and Clock (2012), for example, pictures of the disco icon emerge as an investigation into how images of masculinity and male beauty come to be presented and engaged with in the present day. In the exhibition catalogue Sorry I'm Late, Catherine Wood notes that the artist's work also investigates the formal quality and concept of flatness, as well as the ambiguity of the image vis-à-vis its material appearance. At once figurative and flat, her signature 'Cut-outs' series (2007/2012) features women's silhouetted legs in a variety of positions. The artist has discussed her interest in the visual ambiguity of the silhouette—a form that reveals little information about its subject.

One of Hamilton's various recurring themes is the use of organic materials such as food, lichens, and dried flowers. In her Karl Lagerfeld Bean Counter (2012), a life-sized cut-out of a young Lagerfeld reclines seductively on a plinth with a pile of buckwheat and a row of Désirée potatoes. Karin Bellman, writing for Art in America, described this juxtaposition between the fashion icon and the fibre-packed, wholesome food as 'a comic allusion to an alternative type of hunger inside the fashion industry'. For the artist, vegetal matter also functions as 'a marker of different qualities and types of time'; the incorporation of such matter enables the work to change over time, as with the lichen in her Turner Prize exhibition.

Hamilton is the first Black female artist to be commissioned to create a work for the Duveen Galleries at Tate Britain. Her Tate Britain Commission piece The Squash (2018) transformed the gallery space with over 7,000 white floor tiles upon which rested numerous large structures intended as plinths for a selection of artworks from Tate's collection, selected by the artist. In a more-than-six-month residency in the gallery, each day a performer would dress in one of seven costumes so as to resemble a squash. The performance and the outfits were derived from a photo of a dance scene featuring American choreographer Erick Hawkins. This visually playful work prompted both an emotional and bodily response to the peculiar images incorporated in it.

Based in London, Hamilton has held solo exhibitions at numerous major institutions, including Secession, Vienna (2018); Frieze Projects New York, Randall's Island (2016); Kettle's Yard, The Hepworth Wakefield (2016); The Magazine Sessions of Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London (2016); SculptureCenter, Long Island City (2015); ICA, London (2015); The Tanks, Tate Modern, London (2012); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2012); and Chisenhale Gallery, London (2008). Her work can be found in prominent museums and collections such as Arts Council Collection; Tate, London; V&A, London; The Hepworth Wakefield; and Government Art Collection, London.

Sophie Guo | Ocula | 2019

Anthea Hamilton In Ocula Magazine

Anthea Hamilton In Related Press

View All (6)
Sign up to be notified when new artworks and exhibitions by Anthea Hamilton are added to Ocula.
Sign Up