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Richard Hamilton

Richard Hamilton is to this day one of the most influential British artists. Many times, rightfully so, art lovers compare him to Andy Warhol. Their similar style has its roots to their similar background before they turn into important and successful artists.

Similarly to Andy Warhol, Hamilton started as a commercial artist. This influenced his style and genre. This is more evident in his earlier collages which mostly feature kitsch objects and elements which the artist often took from newspapers and magazines. Critics credit Richard Hamilton as the first Pop-Artist and his photomontage Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing? (1956), as the first Pop artwork.

Richard Hamilton was born in London, in 1922. Growing up, he attended art classes at St Martin’s School of Art. Soon after he signed up as a regular student for the painting class at the Royal Academy School. As the war broke up in Europe in 1938, Hamilton had to stop his studies and work for a while as a draughtsman for EMI. After the war, he returned to the Royal Academy, but the institution expelled him. He then enrolled to Slade School of Art where he studied from 1948 to 1951. During his time at Slade School he started illustrating James Joyce’s Ulysses.

Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing? (1956)

During his final year, he had an exhibition in London. His painting Respective (1951) shows Hamilton’s interest in visual perception. Later on, he became member of the “TIG” (The Independent Group). The TIG was a gathering of young artists, writers and critics. Hamilton was a key member of that group which challenged the elite and modern art. In 1956 TIG organized an exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery for which Hamilton produced Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing?. The exhibition explored the links between popular and commercial culture and it was the first of its kind. In 1992, the artist revisited his work Just What Is… and reproduced it using computer technology and named it Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different?.

Hamilton’s work mainly derives from the consumerist’s culture, politics and also social changes. His works have been used as material for protests, interior and exterior decoration and in portraits. Additionally, his work, especially his prints consistently challenged and broke previously accepted boundaries in art and digital technology equally. Late in his career, he represented Britain at the 1993 Venice Biennale. Besides the Biennale, he exhibited his work in many countries.

Richard Hamilton also made a career as an art instructor. He taught at King’s College, Royal College of Arts and University of Durham. He quit teaching in 1966. In 2013 a major retrospective exhibition was held at the Tate Modern, London and subsequently at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid. Hamilton’s work is held by almost every major museum in the world.Richard Hamilton died aged 89 in 2011, in Oxfordshire, England. He left behind an amazing volume of work.

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