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Richard Hamilton: Serial Obsessions

This is the first ever major solo exhibition of Richard Hamilton held in Asia. In contrast to the American pop art presented by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein that appeared in the 1960s, British pop art started in the 1950s with the emergence of consumer society after the Second World War, and it was Hamilton who led this new art movement in the UK.

After his death in 2011, Tate Modern in the UK organized a major retrospective to illuminate the art world of the first standard bearer of pop art. In Korea, however, there have been very few opportunities to view his works until now. Acclaimed as a major artist representing British modern art, Richard Hamilton visually reinterpreted his observations on modern society through new concepts and perspectives.

The artist was mesmerized by the imagery that was mass produced in the modern world, and focused on the reproduction of imagery and its mechanisms generated in the course of creation of human desire and consumption. The artist continuously reinterpreted the same images and themes, producing a series of works, and in the process, he explored the relationship between images and technical methods through endless exploration and experimentation. In this context, the serial works of Hamilton are the accumulated result of the artist’s exploration of each image, the meaning of each image, and its intrinsic essence.

Richard Hamilton: Serial Obsessions is a unique type of exhibition that highlights the artistic trajectory of the artist. Rather than a narrative retrospective that examines the collected works of Hamilton, this exhibition consists of selected works or a series of works by the artist as a close-up of the 60-year period from the 1950s to 2000s. The material and themes of the works presented at this exhibition are expansive, ranging from electronic home appliances to flowers, pop stars to political prisoners. Images borrowed from newspapers— rock star Mick Jagger being arrested for drug possession, the IRA prisoner protests, and the kidnapping of an Israeli nuclear researcher—have been his material over several decades. Hamilton was enchanted by images appearing in magazine advertisements for electronic home appliances such as toasters, vacuum cleaners, and refrigerators, showing a fascination for design and technology.

The artist has almost obsessively focused on such themes for a long time, and they are revealed as a “complex mechanism” which represents the society behind them through methods such as repetition and reinterpretation. This exhibition will provide an opportunity to discover the multilayered art world of Richard Hamilton, who continuously stretched himself as an observer as well as participant.

An illustrated book that introduces readers to the works of Richard Hamilton is scheduled to be published with the exhibition. The book will include articles written by Andrew Wilson, a senior curator at Tate Modern and a prominent researcher in the
Relevant research areas: East Asia, 20th Century, Screenprinting

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