Richard Hamilton was the most influential British artist of his generation. Often described as ‘the father of Pop art’, he produced experimental and multilayered work in a range of media that both explored and crystallized the postwar world of consumer capitalism and popular culture in an attempt to ‘get all of living’ into his art. Seminal works such as his collage Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing? from 1956 and his silkscreen and related series based on a news photograph of Mick Jagger Swingeing London 67 came to define an era in which new commodities and technologies, mass production, mass media, and celebrity came to the fore, and challenged the hierarchical values of ‘high’ and ‘low’ art. Later works tackling subjects such as the Troubles in Northern Ireland and the Gulf War contained a serious political message, as he continued to be ‘passionately responsive to his own time’, as one critic put it. His groundbreaking exhibitions and installations, first as a leading member of the Independent Group in the 1950s, and later at venues such as the Venice Biennale, influenced curatorial practice in the latter twentieth century and into the next. His importance to fields beyond contemporary art was demonstrated when he was asked to design the cover of the Beatles’ so-called White Album in 1968.
In this book, acclaimed cultural commentator and writer Michael Bracewell presents a concise introduction to this deeply complex artist. Written from a personal perspective, it discusses Hamilton’s all-embracing work in relation to the music, film, and popular culture of the day in a rich new interpretation of his art and ideas. The book covers the full scope of Hamilton’s practice, and includes examples from the various media in which he worked, from collage, print and painting to sculpture and photography, as well as the many diverse subjects of the modern world that he addressed. With photographs and quotes from Hamilton throughout, this attractive volume will appeal to anyone wanting to understand his iconic and pioneering work and its lasting cultural legacy.