Richard Hamilton is the first artist that tends to come to mind when they think about British Pop. Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing? His collage from 1957 is probably just as well known as Warhol’s prints and Lichtenstein’s graphic comic like images from 1960s New York. Now, his work is on display at three locations across London: ICA, Alan Cristea and Tate, two of which I went down to see.
I first went along to the ICA show which could not have been more different to what I was expecting. When I think of Hamilton I think bold colour however I was faced with grey. The display is a restating of Hamilton’s installations at the ICA from two shows: Man, Machine and Motion, 1955 and an Exhibit, 1957. Two shows which appeared just before the collage which he is now most famous for. Hamilton was a member of the Independent Group, who met regularly at the ICA to discuss ideas, so it seems fitting that his early shows have been rehung here. This display is full of images of machines, diagrams and a maze of coloured perspex. The two installations are presented alongside archival material from Hamilton’s involvement with the gallery.
I subsequently went to the Alan Cristea Gallery which was a little more of what I was expecting. Alan Cristea had a working relationship with Hamilton, so it is not surprising that the show spans more than 40 years of prints. Here the show covered much of Hamilton’s career, including reproductions of his 1960s prints to some more modern work, similar to that which was on display at National Gallery in 2012, where he put his own twist on old master paintings, which he did again at Alan Cristea with works by Picasso and Velazquez. On display are also more political works including images of members of the Rolling Stones in handcuffs after being arrested for drug abuse and investigations into the IRA and conflicts in the Middle East.
These shows demonstrate that Hamilton was more than one infamous collage. The artist worked right up until his death and with shows all over London, there is no excuse for anyone to not see just one!
Richard Hamilton is on display at ICA until 6 April
Richard Hamilton is on display at Alan Cristea until 22 March
Richard Hamilton is on display at Tate Modern until 26 May