Richard Hamilton (British, born February 24, 1922–died September 13, 2011) was a painter and collage artist, and one of the earliest progenitors of Pop Art. Hamilton, who was born in London, England, took evening art classes before studying painting at the Royal Academy School in 1938. He left school to work as an industrial designer. Returning to the academy in 1946, Hamilton was later expelled for not following the directions of his instructors. He continued his education at Sade School of Art in London, from 1948 to 1955.

Starting in 1948, Hamilton found himself heavily influenced by the works of James Joyce and Marcel Duchamp. Hamilton did the illustrations for James’s book Ulysses. Hamilton began to exhibit his work at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, where Eduardo Paolozzi displayed his collage work. His first major work in collage was titled Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing? (1956). The collage shows a nude couple, cut from the pages of a magazine relaxing among images of modern convenience.

Hamilton found himself focusing more on everyday popular culture, and he began to produce work that defined that culture in his own words, such as Popular, Transient, Expendable, Low Cost, Mass Produced, Young, Witty, Sexy, Gimmicky, Glamorous, and Big Business. The painting AAH (1962) illustrates his thoughts on popular culture of the time. The well-known Portrait of Hugh Gaitskell as a Famous Monster of Filmland (1964) was done in response to the snobbish dismissal the upper class showed toward popular culture and Pop Art. It was a black and white photograph of the deceased British Labor Party leader painted over with oil. In 1977, Hamilton teamed up with the artist Dieter Roth to produce a series of stylistic paintings entitled Collaborations of Ch. Rotham, in which they adopted several different artistic voices in each painting they produced. Hamilton was commissioned by the Beatles to do the cover artwork for the White Album (1968). He landed the job via a mutual friend and gallery owner. Many of Hamilton’s works are displayed at the Tate Gallery in London, England; The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, NY; and The Museum of Modern Art in New York, NY.

Hamilton died on September 13, 2011, in Oxfordshire, England.

Timeline

1922
Born in London, UK
1934
Attended evening classes in art at local LCC adult education centres in Pimlico and Southwark, though under age, with the generous encouragement of the teacher Mr. Smith, London, UK
1936
Attended evening classes in art at Westminter School of Art, Vincent Square (teachers included Mark Gertler and Bernard Meninsky) and St Martins' s School of Art (teachers included William Roberts), London, UK
1938
Started studying painting at the Royal Academy Schools, London, UK
1948–1951
Continued studying at the Royal Academy Schools and the Slade School of Art, London, UK
1952
Instructor, Central School of Arts and Crafts, London, UK
Founded the Independent Group with Paolozzi
1960
Recipient, William and Noma Copley Award
1957–1961
Instructor of Interior Design, Royal College of Art, London, UK
1962
Interviewed Marcel Duchamp for BBC TV, Monitor programme
First showed Pop paintings, with Hockney, Kitaj and Peter Blake
1953–1966
Lecturer, Fine Art Department, King' s College, University of Durham (later University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne), Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK
1966
Finished reconstruction of the Large Glass and presented it with all the studies in the Hatton Gallery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK
1969
Recipient, joint first prize (with Mary Martin) in John Moores exhibition, Liverpool, UK
1970
Recipient, Talens Prize International
1991
Delivered the William Townsend Memorial Lecture on The Hard Copy Problem at University College, London, UK
2011
Died in Oxfordshire, UK

Exhibitions

2008
Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art, Barbican, London, UK
For the Spirit: From the UBS Art Collection, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan
2007
The Secret Public, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, UK
Rock 'N' Roll Vol I, Sorlandet Art Museum, Kristiansand, Norway
2006
Sound Zero, Kunst Meran, Meran, Italy
2005
Looking at Words, Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York, NY
Summer of Love Art of the Psychedelic Era, Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
2004
Funny Cuts: Cartoons and Comics in der zeitgenossische Kunst, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany
Multiple Strategies, Cincinnati Contempoerary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH
2003
In Perspective: Retrospective of Drawings and Paintings, MACBA, Barcelona, Spain (solo)
2002
Imaging Ulysses, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland and The British Museum, London, UK (solo)
Print Retrospective, Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Winterthur, Switzerland (solo)
2001
Alan Cristea Gallery, London, UK (solo)
Prints 1968-1998, Charles Cowles Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1998
New technology and Printmaking, Alan Cristea Gallery, London, UK (solo)
1992
A Print Retrospective, Waddington Graphics, London, UK (solo)
1990
Studio Marconi, Milan, Italy (solo)
1989
Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1986
National Gallery of Canada, Toronto, Canada (solo)
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA (solo)
Los Angeles County Museum, Los Angeles, CA (solo)
1985
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT (solo)
1984
National Museum, Stockholm, Sweden (solo)
1982–1984
Waddington Graphics, London, UK (solo)
1983
Nishimura Gallery, Tokyo, Japan (solo)
1978
The Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada (solo)
1977
The Tate Gallery, London, UK (solo)
1974
Scottish Arts Council, Edinburgh, Scotland (solo)
1972
Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, UK (solo)
1971
Studio Marconi, Milan, Italy (solo)
Castelli Graphics, New York, NY (solo)
1970
The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Canada (solo)
1950
Gimpel Fils, London, UK

Public Collections

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
Tate Gallery, London, UK
Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC
Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA