Richard Hamilton: Room 17

Interiors and angels

In 1994, Hamilton made a show for the Anthony d’Offay Gallery in London. Deciding to produce ‘a series of paintings relating to a space in its entirety’, he photographed seven sections of the empty gallery walls, making adjustments to the images on his computer to correct the distortions created by his wide-angle lens. Next he set about photographing seven interiors of his Oxfordshire home. Each image included a view into another space, seen through a doorway or window. The domestic interiors were digitally pasted into place on the gallery interior images, and the Cibachromes were printed onto canvas. In one instance, oil paint was added on the surface. ‘The group of seven rooms developed into a portrait of a house’, he wrote.

7 Rooms was recreated at documenta X in Kassel in 1997, after which Hamilton ‘became interested in populating these empty interiors’. He photographed his wife and a friend, setting the figures in the interiors of his house. The works premiered in an exhibition in Venice in 2007 called A Host of Angels. For Hamilton, angels are ‘pure spirits without substance or gender’, but, he explained, ‘since pure spirits without substance are difficult to configure, the female form is my preferred option.’

The series reprises many of Hamilton’s concerns. The woman speaking on the telephone in An annunciation recalls a section of the 1956 collage Just what is it….. Meanwhile, The passage of the bride shows the reflection of Hamilton’s model in the glazing covering his drawing of the Large Glass, which is hanging in the passageway in his home: the figure appears as a ‘mirrorical apparition’ of Duchamp’s Bride.