Hamilton and Duchamp

Hamilton was the foremost champion of Marcel Duchamp in post-war Britain. In 1963, he wrote that Duchamp’s work ‘reveals a hand of fine sensibility, an eye of acutely personal taste, and a mind capable of taking key thoughts of our time and translating them into subtle plastic expression.’

Hamilton first came across the ‘Green Box’, Duchamp’s facsimile reproductions of his handwritten notes for The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (otherwise known as The Large Glass), in 1948; corresponding with Duchamp, he published a translation and typographical arrangement of the notes in 1960. In 1966, he organised The almost complete works of Marcel Duchamp at the Tate Gallery. As The Large Glass was too fragile to travel from Philadelphia, he gained Duchamp’s permission to make a reconstruction, preparing various studies of components of the work along the way. Hamilton dedicated over a year to its fabrication, reflecting his devotion to Duchamp and the urgent need to include this masterwork in the Tate exhibition.

Hamilton’s admiration for Duchamp never wavered. In later life, while making paintings related to The Large Glass seen in Room 17, he published a ‘typotranslation’ of Duchamp’s ‘White Box’ notes. This room brings together this material, together with a project that has associations with the use of perspective in The Large Glass: Hamilton’s attempt, first abandoned, then resumed with the help of computers, to create a print based on a photograph of five tyres from different stages of manufacturing history.