(1922 – 2011), United Kingdom

Richard Hamilton Biography

Richard Hamilton was an innovative and influential artist, teacher, and writer who is often referred to as the 'Father of Pop Art', having played a key role in outlining its aims and ideals. Although principally a painter and printmaker, he is also linked to political protest, conceptualism, and the ideas of Marcel Duchamp.

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Early Years

Raised in Pimlico, London, Hamilton began drawing at ten, attending classes at a local library. He began producing large charcoal drawings at the age of twelve and was accepted into the Royal Academy at just sixteen. World War II started and, too young to enlist, Hamilton trained in technical drawing.

In 1948 he went to Slade School of Art, studying under Sir William Coldstream. In 1950 he began exhibiting and designing exhibitions at the ICA. There he befriended many artists including the Scottish artist Eduardo Paolozzi whose collages (which used ads from American magazines) Hamilton first saw within an exhibition of the Independent Group in 1952.

Richard Hamilton Artworks

Hamilton's own 1956 collage, Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing?—which he made for the Whitechapel show, This is Tomorrow—became so enormously influential that it has been labelled the 'first genuine work of Pop'. Satirising American materialism around contemporary Adam and Eve figures, it incorporates comics, words, and consumerist images that anticipated the subject matters of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Claus Oldenburg. When asked what 'pop art' should be Hamilton famously exclaimed: 'Popular, transient, expendable, low-cost, mass-produced, young, witty, sexy, gimmicky, glamorous, and Big Business.'

Hommage à Chrysler Corp (1957), showed Hamilton's brilliant draughting skills for design, preceding the styles of Willem de Kooning and Tom Wesselman by creating a 'desirable', fetishistic image that subtly blended car parts and a female body using minimal, fragmented outlines.

Two other important works from this period were Towards a Definitive Statement on the Coming Trends in Menswear and Accessories (1962), showing President Kennedy in an abstracted space helmet, and Interior II (1964), based on a still from a Douglas Sirk film. Here, again, a woman is depicted in a reconstructed, brightly coloured lounge surrounded by multiple disjointed perspectives and various collaged consumer items.

Hamilton had a wide range of interests that he presented in his art, from left-wing politics shown in works such as The Orangeman (1990); The Citizen (1981—3); and Kent State (1970), to advanced computer technologies as in his Five Tyres Remoulded (1972). A gifted writer, his essays were collected and published in the anthology, Collected Words 1953—82.

Hamilton was also a personal friend and interpreter of Marcel Duchamp, and in collaboration supervised the publication of The Green Book (1960) and the reconstruction of The Large Glass (1965—66). He also collaborated with Duchamp to screen print on glass a detail of seven ascending and descending 'masculine' cones, in Sieves (1971).

Exhibitions

Richard Hamilton participated in many solo and group exhibitions.

Solo exhibitions include: Richard Hamilton: Towards a Definitive Statement, Cristea Roberts Gallery, London, UK (2021); Richard Hamilton: Respective, Pallant House, Chichester, UK (2020); It Moves Forward: The Work of Richard Hamilton, Graves Gallery, Museum Sheffield, Sheffield, UK (2019); Richard Hamilton: Serial Obsessions, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, Seoul (2017); Richard Hamilton, Object, Interiors, self-portraits and people, Institut Valencia d'Art Modern, Valencia, Spain (2016); Richard Hamilton, Tate Modern, London, & Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2014); Modern Moral Matters, Serpentine Gallery, London (2010).

Group exhibitions include: Democracies, Tate Liverpool, UK (2021/22); Still Undead: Popular Culture in Britain Beyond the Bauhaus, Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, UK (2019); Word and Image: Prints 1963—2007, Alan Cristea Gallery, London, UK (2014); Paparazzi! Photographers, stars and artists, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2013); Political Pictures, Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin, Ireland (2011).

Awards

William and Noma Copley Foundation Award (1960); John Moores Contemporary Painting Prize (1960); Talens Prize International (1970); Leone d'Oro for his exhibition in the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (1993); Arnold Bode Prize at documenta X, Kassel (1997); Companion of Honour (1999); Max Beckmann Prize for painting (2006).

Collections

Hamilton is represented in the collections of many international art museums including major institutions of North America, U.K. and Europe.

John Hurrell | Ocula | 2022

Richard Hamilton Featured Artworks

Swingeing London 67 etching by Richard Hamilton contemporary artwork print
Richard Hamilton Swingeing London 67 etching, 1968 Etching, aquatint, embossing, photo-etching, foil die-stamping and collage
34 x 55.7 cm
Offer Waterman Contact Gallery
Study for ‘Lux 50' – I by Richard Hamilton contemporary artwork mixed media
Richard Hamilton Study for ‘Lux 50' – I, 1976 Collage on photograph
25 x 25 cm
Sprüth Magers Enquire
Diab DS-101 computer by Richard Hamilton contemporary artwork sculpture
Richard Hamilton Diab DS-101 computer, 1985–1989 Mixed media
70 x 50 x 50 cm
Sprüth Magers Enquire

Richard Hamilton Recent Exhibitions

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Richard Hamilton In Ocula Magazine

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