Richard Hamilton TiT 2002

Artwork details

Artist
Richard Hamilton 1922–2011
Title
TiT
Date 2002
Medium Screenprint on paper
Dimensions Support: 890 x 670 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Purchased 2003
Reference
P78705
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Summary

TiT is an acronym for This is Tomorrow, the ground breaking exhibition of 1956 at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London which in many ways heralded the arrival of British Pop. Organized by members of the Independent Group, a set of young artists based at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, the exhibition was made up of twelve zones, each devised by a separate combination of artists, architects, designers, musicians, engineers and critics. Richard Hamilton, John McHale (1922-78) and the architect John Voelcker (born 1927) were responsible for the second zone where cultural artefacts mingled with many forms of visual language combining high and low art. A reproduction of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers (1888, National Gallery, London) hung next to an enormous image of Robbie the Robot from the popular science fiction film, The Forbidden Planet (1956), and a picture of the film star Marilyn Monroe (1926-62) from The Seven Year Itch (1955). There was an optical illusion corridor, a floor that emitted the smell of strawberries, and numerous copies of Marcel Duchamp’s Rotoreliefs (first appearing in his film Anaemic Cinema 1925-6). The architectural structure that housed them was equally quirky: walls met at odd angles, doorways leant to one side, and ceilings sloped. The overall effect was of a funfair for the mind and senses. Hamilton later described it as ‘a cultural spaceship going who knows where’ (quoted in David Robbins ed., ‘Retrospective Statements’, The Independent Group: Postwar Britain and the Aesthetics of Plenty, exhibition catalogue, ICA and MIT, London and Cambridge 1990, p.188).

Hamilton first created the image in the screenprint TiT as a poster for an exhibition of his installations entitled Vier Räume (Four Rooms) at the Museum Fridericianum, Kassel in 2000. As the exhibition was to include a reconstruction of the ‘Funhouse’ installation of 1956, Hamilton decided to use a photograph of the original installation, viewed from the narrow end as the basis for his poster. The image is bisected by a wall that separates two spaces looking back through the structure and along a corridor between an external wall of the artists’ pavilion and a wall of the Whitechapel Gallery. Hamilton’s son Roderick, an expert in digital graphics, worked on a precise tracing taken from the photograph using Adobe Illustrator – a drawing programme that creates vector graphics made of lines and curves defined by mathematical objects. The result is an image that combines abstract linear patterning and blocks of flat colour with the perspectival delineation of space. In the upper left corner, an enlarged copy of one of Duchamp’s Rotoreliefs is set in a rectangle of vibrant red. Below it, an optical illusion pattern created by the Gestalt psychologist Edgar Rubin (1886-1951) appears to be painted in black on two adjoining walls. A series of openings under the block of red suggests a view through areas separated by slanting sections of wall to an enclosed space visible and potentially accessible from either side of the central dividing wall. A section of floor in this chopped up passageway covered with a mass of coloured paint dribbled in the manner of Abstract Expressionist painter Jackson Pollock (1912-56) constitutes the only instance of expressive non-digital mark making in the image. The space to the right of the central white strip is a corridor, striped on the floor and one wall with black lines carefully set at intervals to convey the sense of receding space. In the catalogue for This is Tomorrow, Hamilton wrote:

We resist the kind of activity which is primarily concerned with the creation of style. We reject the notion that ‘tomorrow’ can be expressed through the presentation of rigid formal concepts. Tomorrow can only extend the range of the present body of visual experience. What is needed is not a definition of meaningful imagery but the development of our perceptive potentialities to accept and utilize the continual enrichment of visual material.

(Quoted in Lawrence Alloway, Reyner Banham, David Lewis, This is Tomorrow, exhibition catalogue, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London 1956, [p.24].)


The ideas of return and revision are entirely consistent with Hamilton’s magpie approach to culture and history. His work has often broken down linear concepts of time or rigid cultural rules in an attempt to broaden the parameters of art.

Hamilton was not satisfied with the print quality of the offset print, entitled Kassel Dec.00, that was produced for his Kassel exhibition as the gradations of tone showing receding space were beyond the capabilities of the offset machine. Realising that the silkscreen process would be more effective, he embarked on the lengthy and complex undertaking of cutting thirty separate stencils for the thirty separately applied colours in the image. Tit was printed by the artist and Brad Faine at Coriander Studio, London in an edition of fifty plus five artist’s proofs. Tate’s copy is the forty-fourth in the edition. It was published by Hamilton and is distributed by Alan Cristea Gallery, London.

Further reading:
Faye Hirsch, ‘Hamilton’s multiplex’, Art in America, Vol.93, No.8, September 2004, pp.48-53, p.49.
Etienne Lullin, Richard Hamilton: Prints and Multiples 1939-2002, exhibition catalogue, Kunstmuseum Winterthur and Yale Center for British Art, New Haven 2003, pp.246-7, reproduced p.247 in colour.

Elizabeth Manchester
September 2007

About this artwork