<p>‘Adonis in Y Fronts’, screenprint, 1963</p>

Richard Hamilton: Respective review, Pallant House: A restless showcase of the early pop artist

Richard Hamilton: Respective review, Pallant House: A restless showcase of the early pop artist

Richard Hamilton: Respective review, Pallant House: A restless showcase of the early pop artist

Pop art, as Richard Hamilton fashioned it, was once the “now” to modernism’s “then” – but walk through Pallant House Gallery’s exhibition Respective, and it is clear how the visceral newness of modernism titans such as Duchamp influenced pop art’s Hamilton.

Hamilton arranged Duchamp’s first British retrospective at the Tate in 1966. Holding the artist in high regard, Hamilton was drawn to Duchamp’s decided disregard for the orders of high and low art, and for his twists and play with words. One could argue that Hamilton admired Duchamp’s heterogeneity, and sought to push this further with his exploration of drawing, painting, photograph, sound, installation and digital print. Hamilton’s early abstract works rarely rouse visual prompts, as his more bombastic images dominate our visual lexicon. To this end, “Respective”, an intricate oil painting that gives the exhibition its title, offers insight into Hamilton’s interest in visual perception and the fundamentals of perspective.

Hamilton writes, “My paintings at this time were abstract [and] demonstrate one clear preoccupation – the use of minimal elements to articulate the picture surface.” It is back-to-basics bare canvas and simple marks, urging us – and him – to consider our relationships between these marks and as a whole. This idea is developed later in “Hers Is A Lush Situation” (1958), when Hamilton had begun his investigations into his own self-styling of pop art. Here, he posits the relationship between woman and machine, as detailed in three interwoven elements: the girl in the car with a Sophia Loren pout; the car vrooming in motion; and the hyper-detailed urban landscape of New York.


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