Room 10

The end of the Sixties

Hamilton’s interests in popular culture and the transformation of images through modern media continued towards the end of the 1960s. In 1968, he was commissioned by the Beatles to design the cover for their new double-album. In a masterpiece of minimal design, Hamilton left the cover white, except for the embossed name of the band; inside was a poster based on a collage of photographs culled from their archives.

For a series based on fashion images, Hamilton photographed a studio in Milan where a white backdrop and other lighting equipment had been set up. This background was silkscreened onto sheets of paper. Using material collaged from fashion magazines as well as paints masquerading as make-up, Hamilton deconstructed the image of the model, pointing to the way artifice and adornments elicit attention. Some faces remain coherent despite appearing in fragments; others are almost gruesome collections of parts.

Hamilton also recorded the troubling events of the era: the series of paintings Swingeing London were based on photographs of Mick Jagger handcuffed to Hamilton’s gallery owner, Robert Fraser, after their arrest for drugs possession in February 1967. A judge had recommended a ‘swingeing sentence’ and Hamilton picked up the term as countering the permissive reputation of ‘Swinging London’. Two years later, Hamilton set up a camera in front of his TV and photographed a news report of the shooting of students at Kent State University in Ohio protesting the Vietnam War; the resulting series of prints register the transformation of information through media from the place of occurrence to the place of reception.