During the late 1950s and 1960s the British art school environment was a breeding ground for artistic innovation. Challenging the traditional hierarchies between high and low culture, it evolved a culture of bohemianism and ease against a backdrop of rising economic affluence and pop optimism. Art students’ openness to the relevance of all creative experience – as propagated by figures such as Richard Hamilton – led to a promiscuous intermingling of ideals across the disciplines of fine art, fashion, design, and pop music.
Hamilton’s Swingeing London 67 (f) 1968–9 emblematises this culture of convergence. Hamilton’s use of an appropriated image of the gallerist Robert Fraser handcuffed to the foppish Rolling Stones front-man Mick Jagger following their appearance in court on drugs charges comments on the processes of mass mediation as a defining characteristic of the modern age.
His direct influence as a tutor to figures including Bryan Ferry – de facto leader of Roxy Music, the ultimate art-school pop group – is examined in Tate Liverpool’s exhibition Glam! The Performance of Style.
Glam! The Performance of Style is the first exhibition to explore glam style and sensibility in-depth and is on at Tate Liverpool 8 February – 12 May 2013.