Following our monthly birthday features on the blog, we remember the late Richard Hamilton as a pioneer of collage, painting and acrylic through the 20th and early 21st century. We celebrate with a look back on his technique and great works.
Undeniably his most famous piece, ‘Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing?’(1956) was the first pop art collage to achieve iconic status. Like other pop artists of the time, he was fixated by popular culture and mass production, using newspapers and magazines not only as inspiration but as a tactile material for his work.
Keeping up to date with new printing techniques, screen prints, lithography and photography, Hamilton was on the cusp of contemporary trends and maintained connections with celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe and The Rolling Stones.
“Pop Art should be popular, transient, expendable, low-cost, mass-produced, young, witty, sexy, gimmicky, glamorous, and big business.”
His links with the rock and roll elite didn’t stop there, he designed the legendary Beatles’ White Album proving that typography was another one of his strong suits. While aesthetically slick, Hamilton’s work is rewarding on an intellectual level too. His play on the Pernod Ricard drinks brand, altered to just Ricard, illustrates this skill perfectly. His use of vivid colours reflects the bright and ambitious mindset of the 1960’s consumer lifestyle.
Throughout his life he continued to embrace changing techniques and technologies, including experiments in digital art in the 1980’s. In much of this work it's clear he used a computer to calculate these precise models – and more surprisingly Hamilton built his own computers and designed software. These pieces feel like a fictional space, much like locations online, they are almost intangible.
Continue to celebrate his legacy by heading to the Richard Hamilton at the ICA exhibition between 12th February and 6th April to see their presentation of two Hamilton installations, where he spent much of his time as a young artist.
Happy Birthday to Richard Hamilton, relentless experimenter and father of Great British Pop Art, on behalf of the creative community, we thank you for your inspiring work.