The Passage Of The Bride

Richard Hamilton was one of the most important twentieth century Artists who used a variety of Medium, including digital photography, Technology and different sorts of Plastic and Silicone as well as being a remarkable and revolutionary Painter. Hamilton used colour etching to start out with together with organic and scientific materials. He was always concerned with Photography, Film stills and press shots were used in his work. He was fascinated by grid like structures.   “Increasingly Hamilton was concerned with perspective, focus, time and motion. In different ways his works took apart the premises of classical fixed point perspective painting by trying to describe vision in motion”. [1].


In 1951 his perspective was to use circular dots as shading and use watercolour on paper using a series of eyes very similar to an underground map. His Transition 3 –Railway lines is reminiscent of Japanese landscapes. From 1956-1963 Hamilton together with Eduardo Paolozzi and others formed the Independent group which showed the development of Pop Art in Britain. Hamilton with Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol would be the foremost innovators in the development of Pop art. “ Hamilton created a collage that has been seen as the first Pop Work  Just what is it that makes todays homes so different , so appealing”.[2].  Collage used by the Cubists appealed to pop artists like Hamilton, it was popular, expendable low cost and mass produced, it allowed for compilation using cars, sexy women and different Household appliances.  “Hamilton rhymed the sexual desire infusing modern looking with the consumers craving for the curves and surfaces of new products”. [3].

Seminar (in Collaboration with Richard Hamilton) 1971 by Dieter Roth 1930-1998

Hamilton used interiors as a basis for much of his work during this period. “In 1964 he reengaged with the Genre after coming across publicity still for the 1948 film Shockproof in which the actress Patricia Knight stands over the body of a Man she has just shot”. [4].

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Interior 1

Just what is that makes Todays homes so different, so appealing

Hamilton was fascinated by Celebrities and Film stars, His Marilyn paste up showed a series of photographs of Marilyn Monroe who had obliterated her own work, consequently Hamilton obliterated the images in his Marilyn paste up.



Marilyn Paste Up

Politicians like Hugh Gaitskell he portrayed the Labour leader as some sort of Monster.

“Portrait of Hugh Gaitskell as a famous monster of Film land was intended to be more overtly political than Hamilton’s pop paintings. Hugh Gaitskell Leader of the Labour party opposed the campaign for unilateral disarmament supported by most party members”. [5].

Hamilton   in 1965 was influenced by Marcel Duchamp’s approach to art. He organised exhibitions around Duchamp’s the Bride stripped Bare by her Bachelors. Hamilton made reproductions of Duchamp’s ‘White box’ notes and presented them in an exhibition. He produced a Silicone plastic relief of eight screen prints on polyester film.

Form 1964-1979 Hamilton became interested in German design producing a number of works dedicated to German Engineering and design applicator. Ephihany 1964 and Still Like 1965 are examples of this period of work.


Hamilton continued to use different sorts of materials mainly in his sculpture. His Architecture he used fibre glass and cellulose acrylic paint and the use of screen printing which had been widely used by Pop artists like Andy Warhol.

The End of the Sixties signalled important political developments. Hamilton captured Mick Jagger and Gallery Owner Robert Frazer being arrested and taken away on drugs Charges. The shooting at Kent University in the United States showed the reaction of the American State to opposition to the Vietnam War and it shows how Hamilton identified with these students.

From 1974 Hamilton started using pastel on paper and shading and exposing photographs for greater effect. His uses of photographic images were legendary and he was very involved in Digital technology. There are several examples entitled Sunset and Sunrise.

Still- Life.

Hamilton was always interested in Fashion Photography and took a wide interest in all the fashion. All the time he was experimenting with different techniques using different materials. Hamilton was unlike Pop Artists, he was revolutionary in his approach to artistic practice constantly changing images and using different techniques. The use of Graphite, Paper, Collage and acrylic paint showed how Hamilton’s genius came through in his art works.  “These subjects were also the starting point for complex technical experimentation for instance .Hamilton set out to make colour etchings through the production of four copper plates inked with yellow, cyan magenta and Black”. [6].

Swingeing Sixties

In 1984   Hamilton started to reflect on the politics of Thatcherism through a series of installations at an Exhibition called the Four Rooms. The most important of these was Treatment Room. “Treatment Room had overtones of DHSS Labour Exchanges and NHS Waiting rooms. Beyond a screen was a slab table on which one might imagine a patient. Hanging above was a monitor repeating footage from the Conservative Party Election Broadcast from 1983 showing Margaret Thatcher in a classical interior”. [7].

Hamilton became more and more concerned with surveillance and its role in a Modern Capitalist society, particularly surveillance through monitors. “The installation dealt with the workings of power through surveillance the monitor reminding the viewer of CCTV cameras in public spaces and indoctrination. Hamilton ended his text accompanying treatment room by asking is the vision of Mrs Thatcher’s patronising a victim of the Health service part of that  future we once though so bright”. [8].

The treatment Room

Hamilton in his Exhibition of the Citizen, The Subject and the state increasingly used his undoubted ability to portray topical and important subjects. He was drawn to the struggle of Irish republicanism and the brave actions of Hunger Strikers. In 1983 he used Photo etchings and engravings on paper of Irish Heroes. He portrayed one of the Hunger Strikers in their dirty protests in 1983 where all the Republican prisoners were wearing were blankets.  “Denied the status of political prisoners, inmates in Long Kesh decided to wear only prison blankets and to daub their cell walls with excrement. Hamilton wrote that he could not condone the method of the IRA but was struck by the materialisation of Christian Martyrdom”. [9].

The citizen 1981-3 by Richard Hamilton 1922-2011

In other Paintings he depicts the role of the state showing a British soldier patrolling the streets of Belfast and Londonderry.

In the 1990’s and 2000’s Protest pictures were used by Hamilton to bring attention to the war in Iraq. His Shock and awe has Blair strutting around like a Cowboy western using pastiche showing how Blair who was responsible for Thousands and Thousands of deaths in Iraq has yet to be brought to Trial as a “War Criminal”

The Citizen

Shock and awe.

Richard Hamilton, a Revolutionary artist of the Twentieth Century who developed from being a Pop Artist to an artist of International renown and was not afraid to involve himself in political controversy. His attitude to the Citizen, the State and the role of its surveillance techniques shows that Hamilton was developing politically. He did have Liberal and concerned views but he was being radicalised by the ongoing political situation with his depiction of Thatcherism and the Role of Blair in the Iraq War.


  1.  Tate   Modern Booklet Richard Hamilton.
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  6.       Tate Modern Booklet  Richard Hamilton
  7.       Ditto                      Ditto
  8.        Ditto                     Ditto
  9.         Tate Modern Booklet Richard Hamilton.

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