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Richard Hamilton: Total Immersion

Richard Hamilton - Just what was it that made yesterday's homes so different, so appealing? (upgrade) - Digital print on paper - 260 x 250 mm - Tate Gallery - London (click photo for larger image)British artist Richard Hamilton (1922-2011) introduced the idea of the artist as an active consumer and contributor to mass culture. Up until then (especially in Abstract Expressionist circles) the prevailing view was that art should be separate from commerce. Hamilton gave other artists permission to consider all visual sources, especially those generated by the commercial sector. For him, “Pop art was not just a movement, but a way of life”.

Nearly every artist involved in the first wave of British Pop was shaped meaningfully by Hamilton's vision for the future of the movement. His impact on his British pupils Peter Blake and David Hockney is especially evident, but he also left his mark on the American Pop artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, whom he got to know and occasionally collaborated with when he visited the United States during the 1960s. “His flair for public spectacle, genuine love of kitsch, and irreverent approach to cultural icons lives on in the work of the Young British Artists (YBA) of the 1990s, among them Damien Hirst, who describes Hamilton as the greatest.” 

“The image featured here is among the most famous in British post-war art. It has come to define the rise of consumer society in the mid to late 1950s and is an icon of Pop art…”

It was always very important to Hamilton for people to understand that Pop Art began in Britain.

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