Hamilton, Richard (1922–2011) By Hess, Heather
British painter and printmaker Richard Hamilton is best known as a progenitor of Pop Art. While mass media and consumer culture remained key points of investigation, ultimately Hamilton’s significance as a modern artist came from the deep technical and conceptual complexity of his work, which took as its touchstone the art, ideas, and legacy of Marcel Duchamp. Hamilton’s ecumenical approach to style and medium was not constrained by conventional hierarchies that separated fine art from commercial and popular culture. Throughout his career, readymades and photography were important sources, and he experimented with new technologies such as Polaroid instant cameras, computers, and inkjet printers. He often worked serially, exploring and exporting ideas across different media, with some projects spanning years, such as with his illustrations to James Joyce’s Ulysses. He was a slow and deliberate painter, and, from the 1970s, worked on a just small number of canvases, while remaining prolific in prints and multiples. Underlying his diverse oeuvre was his fixation on understanding how things were made, which led him to recreate artworks by Duchamp and to master other artists’ styles. He collaborated with other artists, most extensively Dieter Roth, and master printers.