Richard Hamilton was one of the most important artists of recent times, with a career spanning from the late 1940s to 2011. Committed to moving from one style or subject to another, he approached all the historic genres of art in distinctly modern ways. He painted interiors, still lifes based on images of design objects, landscapes, flower paintings, portraits collaged from fashion magazines, as well as modern history paintings addressing subjects such as the ‘Troubles’ in Ireland and the Iraq wars.
Hamilton took a very experimental approach to art-making. He often produced several versions of a particular work rather than a single ‘finished’ piece, and throughout his career explored new printmaking methods and digital techniques. His interest in photography led him to use film stills, publicity photographs, and press shots as the basis for paintings, and to locate the boundary of abstraction and figuration in enlarged images. The mediation of images and information through modern technologies was an ongoing concern.
More than any other British artist of his generation, Hamilton associated with international colleagues. The foremost champion of Marcel Duchamp in the post-war era, he befriended and collaborated with American and European artists from Roy Lichtenstein to Dieter Roth.
For the first time, this retrospective presents Hamilton’s paintings, prints, and Polaroids alongside his exhibition designs and installations. These include Growth and Form 1951, the Fun House from This is Tomorrow 1956, Treatment room 1984 and Lobby 1988. The ideas that he explored in exhibitions fed into his paintings, from canvases featuring sea urchins to the images of modern day consumables in his Pop works. Recreations of a further two 1950s exhibitions – Man, Machine and Motion and an Exhibit – are being shown concurrently at the ICA.