Richard Hamilton: Word and Image: Prints 1963-2007
, Birkenhead, CH43
From 21st June 2014
Following on from its highly successful Henry Moore exhibition, the Williamson
Art Gallery in Birkenhead continues to impress with its latest offering,
a selection of work from the 'Father of British Pop Art' Richard Hamilton.
This is the first time that an exhibition of Hamilton's prints has been
shown outside London, underlining the Williamson's commitment towards
attracting dynamic and influential art to the gallery.
The exhibition features a 1991 print of Hamilton's most reproduced iconic
image (right), Just what was it that made yesterday's
homes, so different, so appealing? Originally a collage-based poster
for the 1956 'This is Tomorrow' exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery,
it shows an unsettling jumble of some of the seductive consumer objects
that had flooded into post-war Britain. It was at this exhibition that
the term 'Pop' was first coined, with this well-known image widely acknowledged
as the first example of British Pop Art.
Hamilton was one of the founding members of the Independent Group formed
at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. Comprising young British
artists, designers, architects and critics, the group aimed to absorb
everyday, domestic objects into the realms of art production, challenging
traditional notions of what was considered appropriate subject matter
for art. The Williamson's exhibition shows the many ways in which Hamilton
sought to break down those barriers throughout his long career.
Digital Art can surely be viewed as Pop Art's natural successor. From
the early 1970s, Hamilton used the most advanced computer technology available
to digitally generate works, alter earlier ones and manipulate perspective.
Highlights of Hamilton's mastery of this genre include the two self-portraits
that flank an entrance in the gallery. Palindrome,
1974, a lenticular, laminated three dimensional print and A
portrait of the artist by Francis Bacon, 1970-71, where Hamilton
uses a rejected Polaroid taken by Bacon to develop a distorted self-portrait
reminiscent of Bacon's own painting style. Indeed, Hamilton frequently
alludes to other artists in his digital work, for example, he references
Van Eyck's The Arnolfini Marriage in his 1998
print, The Marriage and his life-long interest
in Marcel Duchamp is represented in A mirrorical
All the main phases of Hamilton's art practice are well represented here,
ranging from screenprints of the 1960s to more recent digital prints,
including Beatles, 2007, a reinterpretation
of the collage originally sold with the Beatles' White
Album. This exhibition has a broad appeal, certainly attracting
those already familiar with Hamilton's complex oeuvre, but also offering
a compelling insight into the origins and development of digital art technologies.
Presented with Barbican International Enterprises in partnership with
the Alan Cristea Gallery.
Richard Hamilton Word and Image: Prints 1963-2007 opens at the Williamson
Art Gallery on 21 June 2014.