Thursday, 3 April 2014

hers is a lush situation

I dropped into the Richard Hamilton exhibition whilst I was around Tate Modern the other day.

Hamilton is known as one of the Pop Art founders and the 'Swingeing London' painting of Jagger handcuffed to his dealer on the way from a trial is probably one of the best known. Oh and the White Album by the Beatles, probably as well.

I hadn't realised, until I was in the show, that there were actually so many variations of the original Jagger picture, but I suppose I should have thought of it in the context of Pop Art.

I was also surprised at the span of work. A long career and many types of technique used. There's an underlying draughtsmanship to many of the pictures and a peak era which tails away then occasionally produced a new burst of work - like the spooky cowboy picture of Blair called Shock and Awe.

There's hundreds of works on show, witness the catalogue's size.

One of the exhibits that fascinated me was a long wall of work not strictly by Richard Hamilton. It was the Polaroids that he had asked to be taken by many people he knew, spanning 34 years and including Francis Bacon, Henri Cartier-Bresson, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Andy Warhol and Bryan Ferry, to name but a few.

Despite putting himself as the subject, the pictures show a lot about both the person taking the shot and Hamilton too. There's hardly a dull frame in the 100 or more Polaroids on show.

Then there's themes he explores like the industrial designs of his curvaceous car series, tinged with the rhetoric of marketeers' persuasion. Note the Sophia Loren lips in the picture below and the windshield made from the United Nations building. Lush, baby.

Some of the work is clearly from its time, but overall it presents a fascinating story of a founding member of the Pop Art movement, which many formats still use today.

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