The late Richard Hamilton is feted across London in a trio of exhibitions

Exhibition on Growth and Form
Pop pioneer Richard Hamilton is being celebrated in three shows across London. Pictured is 'Growth and Form', 1951, which has been reconstructed especially for his retrospective at Tate Modern. Collection of Richard Hamilton.
(Image credit: Courtesy Tate Photography)

Unless you have been hiding under a stone this week, you cannot have failed to notice how British artist Richard Hamilton has launched a posthumous takeover of London. Today, a major retrospective of the late Pop Artist’s work (opens in new tab) opens at Tate Modern; yesterday, the Institute of Contemporary Arts unveiled two installations (opens in new tab) originally created by Hamilton in the 1950s, and tonight, his lifelong forays into printmaking are honoured at the Mayfair gallery Alan Cristea (opens in new tab).

Does the artist, who died in 2011, deserve such celebration? Yes, as it happens. Hamilton is feted as the father of British Pop Art, as an astute visual chronicler of our times. In the 1960s and 1970s, he depicted rock stars arrested on drugs charges (Mick Jagger), mod cons (TVs, Braun toasters, stereo systems), and Hollywood stars (Marilyn, Bing Crosby). In the 1980s, collages such as 'The Citizen' dealt with the IRA and The Troubles, and were proof that Hamilton was not afraid to tackle politics as well as popular culture.

A centrepiece of the Tate show is 'Fun House' (1956), a room featuring images from movie-posters, magazines and art history. The infamous collage 'Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing?' is there. Consisting of images lifted from mainly American magazines, it features a naked body builder in a modern sitting room and is the work in which the word ‘Pop’ first appeared, defined by Hamilton himself. ‘Pop Art is popular, transient, expendable, low-cost, mass-produced, young, witty, sexy, gimmicky, glamorous, and Big Business,’ he wrote in 1957.

Although a painter and printmaker first and foremost, Hamilton also taught, designed and curated installations. In further homage, Dover Street Market (which was home to the ICA between 1950 and 1968) has scattered archival material across all six floors. It was here that Hamilton first installed the works on show at the current ICA and here that he would meet with the Independent Group, a group of free thinkers who were a precursor to the Pop Art movement.

In 2010, aged 88, he created ‘Shock and Awe’ - Tony Blair as a gunslinger. He never lost his edge. Yet alongside David Hockney and Lucien Freud, he was an unsung hero. The triptych of shows suggests his time has finally come.

Collages such as The Citizen

Collages such as 'The Citizen' (1981-3), also displayed at Tate Modern, dealt with the IRA and The Troubles, and were proof that Hamilton was not afraid to tackle politics as well as popular culture.

(Image credit: © The estate of Richard Hamilton)

Features a naked body builder in a modern sitting room

The infamous collage 'Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing?' (1991) is also also at Tate Modern. Consisting of images lifted from mainly American magazines, it features a naked body builder in a modern sitting room and is the work in which the word ‘Pop’ first appeared, defined by Hamilton himself.

(Image credit: © The Estate of Richard Hamilton)

Institut Valencià d¹Art Modern, Generalita

'Self-Portrait 13.7.80 a 1990', IVAM, Institut Valencià d¹Art Modern, Generalitat.

(Image credit: © The estate of Richard Hamilton)

The artist and his studio in Henley-on-Thames

In 2007, we paid a visit to the artist and his studio in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. He is pictured here next to a test print of 'The Passage of the Angel to the Virgin'

(Image credit: press)

A glimpse of Hamilton's studio

A glimpse of Hamilton's studio, who at the time was working on his painting 'The annunciation'

(Image credit: press)

Installations, such as 'Treatment Room', 1983-4, on show at the Tate Modern

Although a painter and printmaker first and foremost, Hamilton also designed (and curated) installations, such as 'Treatment Room', 1983-4, on show at the Tate Modern. Collection of Richard Hamilton.

(Image credit: Courtesy Tate Photography)

Interior II', 1964

'Interior II', 1964, Tate.

(Image credit: © The estate of Richard Hamilton)

Lobby private collection

'Lobby 1985-1987', private collection.

(Image credit: © The estate of Richard Hamilton)

Swingeing London

'Swingeing London 67 (f)', 1968-9, Tate.

(Image credit: © The estate of Richard Hamilton)

lifelong forays into printmaking are honoured

Elsewhere in London, his lifelong forays into printmaking are honoured at the Mayfair gallery Alan Cristea

(Image credit: press)

Back view of To mother

Back view of 'To mother', 1968.

(Image credit: © The estate of Richard Hamilton. Courtesy Alan Cristea Gallery)

Installation view of 'Richard Hamilton: Word and Image.

Installation view of 'Richard Hamilton: Word and Image. Prints 1963-2007' at Alan Cristea Gallery

(Image credit: press)

The annunciation

'The annunciation', 2005.

(Image credit: © The estate of Richard Hamilton. Courtesy Alan Cristea Gallery)

Interior with monochromes

'Interior with monochromes', 1979.

(Image credit: © The estate of Richard Hamilton. Courtesy Alan Cristea Gallery)

A work from Five Tyres remoulded

A work from 'Five Tyres remoulded (portfolio)', 1971.

(Image credit: © The estate of Richard Hamilton. Courtesy Alan Cristea Gallery)

Patricia Knight, 1964

'Patricia Knight', 1964 (far left); 'Patricia Knight I (coloured)', 1982 (above right); and 'Patricia Knight III (coloured)', 1982.

(Image credit: © The estate of Richard Hamilton, Courtesy Alan Cristea Gallery)

'Man, Machine and Motion', which first debuted at the gallery in 1955.

Completing the triptych of shows, The Institute of Contemporary Arts is also paying tribute to Hamilton by recreating two of his installations from the 1950s. Pictured is 'Man, Machine and Motion', which first debuted at the gallery in 1955.

(Image credit: Paul Knight)

Shots of 'Man, Machine and Motion

Detail shots of 'Man, Machine and Motion'.

(Image credit: Paul Knight)

Installation view of 'An Exhibit'

Installation view of 'An Exhibit', 1957.

(Image credit: Paul Knight)

Installation view of 'An Exhibit'

Installation view of 'An Exhibit', 1957.

(Image credit: Paul Knight)

ICA Exhibition also incorporates archive imagery of the original installations

The ICA exhibition also incorporates archive imagery of the original installations, as well as private view cards and other paraphernalia, more of which can be seen at Dover Street Market, the ICA's former HQ, where it is staging a temporary take-over.

(Image credit: Paul Knight)

Emma O'Kelly is a contributing editor at Wallpaper*. She joined the magazine on issue 4 as news editor and since since then has worked in full and part time roles across many editorial departments. She is a freelance journalist based in London and works for a range of titles from Condé Nast Traveller to The Telegraph. She is currently working on a book about Scandinavian sauna culture and is renovating a mid century house in the Italian Lakes.