RICHARD HAMILTON (b 1922)
Although he had his first one man show in 1950, Richard Hamilton first came to real prominence with the 1956 exhibition “This is Tomorrow” at the Whitechapel Gallery in London. This exhibition was organised by Hamilton and other members of the Independent Group and was a major landmark in the birth of Pop Art. Every significant survey of the development of Pop Art identifies this exhibition as a major turning point. Hamilton’s iconic collage “Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing?” was used for the exhibition catalogue and poster.
At this time, Hamilton was particularly interested in the influences that were beginning to shape post-war Britain. These included television, cinema, advertising, telecommunications, comics, cars, consumer goods (such as domestic appliances) and space exploration. This focus on popular culture and consumerism was, of course, shared with other Pop Artists and fundamentally challenged the idea of a distinction between “high” and “low” culture. Throughout his career, Hamilton has been a committed and innovative printmaker.
“You can do things in print you can’t do in any other medium” Richard Hamilton 1998
Hamilton is a virtuoso printmaker who has explored and extended the possibilities of many diverse printmaking techniques, such as etching, lithography, screen-printing, collotype and, more recently, digital compositions.
He has collaborated with several different print studios, carefully selecting the most appropriate specialists to work with him on the particular project he is engaged with. He describes this process as being “like casting a movie”.
His interests are wide and his prints reflect this. For example, they may be humorous, provide serious political or social commentary, or reflect his deep interest in the work of other artists such as Pablo Picasso or Marcel Duchamp.
A major undertaking, which has preoccupied Hamilton for several decades, involved illustrating James Joyce’s “Ulysses”.
As well as being a renowned printmaker, Hamilton is a painter, exhibition organiser and writer. He has exhibited at prominent galleries throughout the world and his work is held in important collections worldwide.
“On first approaching a print medium an artist may be surprised to discover the process itself putting an unexpected richness in his hands” Richard Hamilton 1984