tue 25/02/2020

Richard Hamilton, 1922-2011 | reviews, news & interviews

Richard Hamilton, 1922-2011

Richard Hamilton, 1922-2011

Hamilton's work was too challenging, too difficult to pin down

At 89, Hamilton was still a subversive – perhaps the last of his kind

Hard on the heels of the death of Lucian Freud comes the departure of another British art great, an artist who was Freud’s exact contemporary but who seems to belong in a different aesthetic universe – Richard Hamilton. While he was the more influential of the two, by some distance, Hamilton was never a contender for that nonsensical soubriquet "Britain’s greatest living artist". His work was too challenging, too difficult to pin down and it never told Britain anything it wanted to hear about itself.

Richard Hamilton was one of the artists who got us where we are today (and if you don’t like where that is, that’s tough)

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Thank you for such a balanced and thoughtful tribute, Mr Hudson. It’s funny how, even within pop art’s narrow parameters, their could be a distinctly British pop art which (predictably perhaps) was more nuanced than its bolder, brasher American counterpart. Also, with Hamilton, there generally seemed to be a more intellectual dimension, an austerity even, to his art which lent it a dignity and timelessness (was Duchamp an influence here, aesthetically as well as intellectually?) Perhaps this is why he never quite scaled the heights or sustained a full-on public career in the way many of his contemporaries did: he simply wasn’t vulgar, gaudy or brazen enough. Pop art as something discrete, measured and even classically proportioned (as ‘Just What Is It That Makes Today's Home So Different, So Appealing?’ now appears to my eyes) simply wasn’t pop art. And, no, before you ask, I'm not that Bob Hughes!

A very well thought out piece. He will be greatly missed. He was always ahead of his time.

An excellent article and a sad loss.

That is an eye-opener. As an anti-war activist I only really became aware of Richard Hamilton through his portrayal of Blair. It's good to learn more about him. If he's a subversive let's have more of them - and I'm sure he's not the last!

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