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Richard Hamilton (1922 - )

Related: Pop art - The Independent Group - British art

"Just What is it that makes today's home so different, so appealing?" (1956) - Richard Hamilton [Image link]


Richard Hamilton (born April 24, 1922) is a British painter and collage artist. His 1956 collage titled "Just What Is It that Makes Today's Homes So Different, So Appealing?", produced for the "This is Tomorrow" exhibition of the Independent Group in London, is considered by some critics and historians to be the first work of Pop Art. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Hamilton_%28artist%29 [Apr 2005]

Just What Is It that Makes Today's Homes So Different, So Appealing?

[Image link]

"Just what is it that makes todays homes so different, so appealing?" is a small (26cm square) 1956 collage by Richard Hamilton that is an early example of Pop Art and is the first recognised artwork to feature the word 'Pop' in this context. The piece was intended as a poster and catalogue illustration for the exhibition "This is Tomorrow". The work shows an interior with a Charles Atlas type bodybuilder holding an outsized lollipop with the word 'Pop' on its wrapper. He is paired by an almost nude female figure who is posed on a sofa. Other elements are a tin of ham placed on a coffee table, a reel to reel tape recorder and a framed page from a romance comic strip predicting the work of Roy Lichtenstein. The interior also uses a high altitude photo of the Earth as the ceiling, an image of sunbathers on a beach as a rug, an advertisement for Hoover vacume cleaners and windows that look on to a view of a Warner Brothers cinema advertising "The Jazz Singer".

In preparation for the piece Hamilton had written down all the elements that defined his interest "Man, Woman, Food, History, Newspapers, Space, Cinema, Domestic, Appliances, Cars, Space, Comics, TV, Telephone, Information". Hamilton himself had not been to America yet but other members of the Independent Group had and John McHale provided Hamilton with the magazines that were the sources of the piece. The title came from another magazine article.

Interpretations of the work are various. Hamilton was interested in the new ideas of communication promoted by Marshall McLuhan and Cybernetics and the piece has all the human senses cast in various modes. The work is comparable to the "Arnolfini Wedding" in having a young couple surrounded by their worldly goods.

Richard Hamilton has reworked the subject and composition several times including a 1992 version featuring a female bodybuilder. The original is in the collection of the Kunsthalle Museum, Tubingen Germany. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_What_Is_It_that_Makes_Today%27s_Homes_So_Different%2C_So_Appealing%3F [Mar 2006]

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