Richard Hamilton, The Saensbury Wing, 1999-2000, Oil on canvas, 59.7 x 82 cm, © Courtesy of the Estate of Richard Hamilton.

Richard Hamilton, Balzac (b), 2011 (printed 2012), Epson inkjet on Hewlett-Packard RHesolution canvas, 112 x 176 cm (each variant), © Courtesy of the Estate of Richard Hamilton.

Richard Hamilton's Last Picture Show with … a painting in three parts

Richard Hamilton, Portrait of a woman as an artist, 2007, Oil on inkjet on canvas, 100 x 123 cm, © Courtesy of the Estate of Richard Hamilton.

Richard Hamilton, Bathroom – fig.2 II, 2005-06, Oil on Fuji/Oce LightJet on canvas, 100 x 100 cm, © Courtesy of the Estate of Richard Hamilton.

Richard Hamilton, Hotel du Rhone, 2005, Oil on Fuji/Oce LightJet on canvas, 100 x 100 cm, © Courtesy of the Estate of Richard Hamilton.


National Gallery
Trafalger Square
+ 020 7747 2885
Sunley Room
Richard Hamilton: The Late Works
October 10, 2012-January 13, 2013

Up until his death aged 89 in September 2011, Richard Hamilton was planning a major exhibition of recent works conceived specifically for the National Gallery. This highly personal exhibition is a masterful final statement of intent by one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century, and includes 30 paintings in a labyrinth-like space also designed by the artist. Some of the works have never been seen by the public. The exhibition as a whole encapsulates many of the influential directions Hamilton’s art had taken over recent decades, when his international reputation soared.

Just before his death, Hamilton was at work on a major painting based on Honoré de Balzac’s short story Le Chef-d’oeuvre inconnu (The Unknown Masterpiece). When it became clear he would not live to finish the work, Hamilton decided that the National Gallery exhibition — the first significant one since his death — would culminate in the initial presentation of three large-scale variations on this work. Each one shows three masters of painting — Poussin, Courbet and Titian — contemplating a reclining female nude; together, they suggest how the final work might have evolved.

Planned in detail by Hamilton, the exhibition incorporates paintings personally selected by the artist. Most are from the past decade and trace an oblique and enigmatic path to the final work based on Balzac’s short story, Le Chef-d’oeuvre inconnu – a painting in three parts. Hamilton had close ties with the National Gallery throughout his career — as a frequent visitor, a teacher guiding his students to its treasures, a curator, and, in the Encounters exhibition of 2000, an exhibitor — and many of his later works reflect the inspiration he took from the Gallery’s collection of Old Masters. These include a recent painting, not shown in Britain before, based on traditional Annunciation iconography.

The exhibition traces several themes of the artist’s career from the 1980s until his death. They include his exacting attention to single-point perspective and the pictorial creation of interior spaces, as seen in works such as Lobby, 1985-7; the theme of the beautiful woman and desire; and his later interest in space and perspective in works by Renaissance artists.

The show surveys Hamilton’s engagement over more than 50 years with the art of Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) whose master themes, including the nude descending a staircase and the bride stripped bare, he re-addresses. Indeed, 'Le Chef-d’oeuvre inconnu — a painting in three parts' can be seen as the artist’s long-considered response to Duchamp’s Etants donné (Philadelphia Museum of Art), the secret installation that was the French artist’s final work too, and his most enigmatic masterpiece.

Born in London in 1922, Hamilton was one of the founders of the Pop Art movement in the 1950s, contributing to the seminal Whitechapel Art Gallery exhibition This is Tomorrow in 1956. His collage Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing? used for the show’s posters, became known as one of the earliest works of Pop Art.

A decade later he designed the cover for the Beatles’White Album. Since then Hamilton has achieved iconic status and received many honours, including the Leone d’Oro (Golden Lion) for his exhibition in the British Pavilion at the 1993 Venice Biennale. At the same time, he was never far from, nor did he avoid, controversy, artistic or political.

Richard Hamilton. Descending Nude, 2006, Oil on Fuji/Oce LightJet on canvas, 110 x 73 cm, © Courtesy of the Estate of Richard Hamilton

Richard Hamilton, The passage of the bride, 1998-99, Oil on cibachrome on canvas, 102 x 127 cm, © Courtesy of the Estate of Richard Hamilton.

Richard Hamilton, The Passage of the Angel to the Virgin, 2007, Digital montage, Fuji/Oce LightJet on canvas, 120 x 168 cm, © Courtesy of the Estate of Richard Hamilton.


Richard Hamilton, Treatment Room, 1983-84, Installation, 275 x 550 x 550 cm, © 2010 Richard Hamilton.

Richard Hamilton's Pioneering Political and Protest Oeuvre

Richard Hamilton, Swingeing London 67 (f), 1968-69, Screenprint on canvas, acrylic and collage, 67 x 85 cm, © 2010 Richard Hamilton.

Richard Hamilton, The Citizen, 1981-83, Oil on canvas, 2 canvases, each 200 x 100 cm, © 2010 Richard Hamilton.

Richard Hamilton, The State, 1993, Humbrol enamel and cloth on Cibachrome on canvas, Two canvases, each 200 x 100 cm, © 2010 Richard Hamilton.

Richard Hamilton, The Subject, 1988-90, Oil on canvas, 2 canvases, each 200 x 100 cm, © 2010 Richard Hamilton.


Serpentine Gallery
Kensington Gardens
020 7402 6075
Richard Hamilton:
Modern Moral Matters

March 3-April 25, 2010

Richard Hamilton has embraced many different media since the 1950s, including painting, printmaking, installation, typography and industrial design. This major exhibition will reassess the nature of the British artist’s pioneering contribution, focusing on Hamilton’s political, or "protest," works.

To start its 40th anniversary year, the Serpentine Gallery presents Richard Hamilton: Modern Moral Matters, a solo exhibition by one of the world’s most respected living artists. This will be the first major presentation of Hamilton’s work in London since 1992 and will include several new works created especially for the Serpentine Gallery exhibition.

The installations, prints and paintings on view take international politics, riots, terrorist acts and war, including the conflict in Northern Ireland and the Iraq wars, as their subject matter. The works examine how these conflicts are represented by the media, including via television and the internet.

Hamilton has seen great changes in communication technologies throughout his working life. In 1969, he noted that: “In the Fifties we became more aware of the possibility of seeing the whole world, at once, through the great visual matrix that surrounds us, a synthetic ‘instant’ view. Cinema, television, magazines, newspapers flooded the artist with a total landscape.”

Through its fragmentation of images, manipulation of space and reference to different styles and genres, Hamilton’s work interrogates the representations that surround us. Yet his analysis of the image is counterbalanced by an underlying, allegoric lyricism, through which he reinvigorates the genres of portraiture and history painting.

This survey of Hamilton's political works also explores in depth the artist's working processes and the varied ways he uses photographic material. It investigates his continued interest in creating multiples of a single, iconic image as both a mirror and a critique of the visual overload created by the media.

The exhibition is curated by Julia Peyton-Jones, Director, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director, and Sophie O’Brien, Exhibition Curator, Serpentine Gallery.

Richard Hamilton, born in 1922, was a leading instigator of Pop Art in Britain in the 1950s. He studied at the Royal Academy Schools from 1938 until it closed for the war in 1940. Too young for conscription, he was sent by the Ministry of Labour to be trained for nine months to become a draughtsman. He then worked in an armaments factory until he was able to return to the Royal Academy Schools when it reopened in 1946. He later studied at the Slade School of Art. His first solo show was held in 1950 to critical acclaim and he subsequently went on to exhibit widely, becoming one of the most significant artists working in the UK. Hamilton was a key member and exponent of the Independent Group, formed in the 1950s by a group of artists and writers at the Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Hamilton taught at the London Central School of Arts and Crafts and the University of Newcastle upon Tyne; he gave up teaching full-time in 1966. Always engaging with a wide range of technological processes within his art, Hamilton began creating computer generated works in the 1980s. He has had a long career as a printmaker and in 1983 won the World Print Council Award. Retrospective exhibitions of Hamilton's work have been held in the UK at the Hanover Gallery (1964), the Tate Gallery (1970 and 1992). Hamilton was Britain's representative at the 1993 Venice Biennale. He participated in the Serpentine Gallery Interview Marathon (2006).

Richard Hamilton: Modern Moral Matters is a development of the exhibition Richard Hamilton: Protest Pictures at Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2008).

Richard Hamilton, Shock and Awe, 2007-08, Inkjet print on Hewlett-Packard Premium canvas, 200 x 100 cm, © 2010 Richard Hamilton.


Richard Hamilton, Portrait of Hugh Gaitskill as a Famous Monster of Filmland, 1964, Oil and collage on photograph on panel, 61 x 61 cm, © 2010 Richard Hamilton.