The year launched with three major art exhibits across London celebrating collage: Richard Hamilton retrospective at the Tate Modern, Hannah Hoch at Whitechapel Gallery and David Lynch/ William Burroughs/ Andy Warhol at the Photographers’ Gallery.
Of the former, Hamilton’s first exhibit was held at Whitechapel Gallery in the 50s before his style progressed to be defined by the interiors collage and the repetitive nature of his work. His go to form was newspaper clippings and magazine prints to cut, paste and define a new image out of existing forms. Essentially, Hamilton was going to the source of print ads, advertorials and marketing content to cut from and carve his own unique art.
Hamilton also had a great appreciation for Max Braun, the German creator of major appliances. Displayed are several of Hamilton’s art pieces of the Braun toaster, mock ad for the Braun electrical toothbrush and humourously adapted texts that he found in the Braun advertising brochures.
Artists rarely manage to separate themselves from their art and Hamilton is no exception. Ruben had four self-portraits, while Rembrandt had forty-four; with the popularity of the polaroid camera in the 70s and 80s, Hamilton posed for a series of self portraits for various artists at the time, all displayed in grid-form at The Tate exhibit. This was the act of the “selfie” before the term even entered the advertiser’s lexicon.
The Instagram photo layout is influenced by the collage and the display of Hamilton’s polaroids taken by other artists in the Tate makes it undeniable that he would have been a fan of the social platform--and the selfie.
Richard Hamilton exhibit at The Tate until May 26.