Richard Hamilton

Richard Hamilton was not only a key figure in the development of Pop Art in Britain but also one of the movement’s pioneers internationally. His work, which draws from and comments on popular culture, technology, the mass media and a wide range of current events, continues to be highly influential worldwide.

The work in ARTIST ROOMS, Four Self-Portraits 05.3.81 1990, exemplifies an ongoing preoccupation with portraiture, its conventions and possibilities as well as the use of darkroom printing and image-making techniques and media which he normally combines.

Richard Hamilton, Four Self Portraits - 05.3.81, 1990

Since 1968 Hamilton had engaged in a project to publish four volumes of Polaroid portraits of himself taken by artist friends and acquaintances. The idea of a composite self-portrait created over many years with the help of many other artists clearly intrigued him enormously. From 1980 to 1981, the artist took about 20 Polaroids of himself standing behind a sheet of clear glass. He then added thick acrylic colour to some of the photographs. The project was never completed but nearly ten years later Hamilton decided to make twelve of these into self-portraits by scanning and retouching them in his Quantel Paintbox. They were then scanned to make 10 by 8 transparencies. These were then further enlarged into Cibachrome prints which were then mounted on canvas.

Hamilton is not only one of the first artists to use manipulated photography, and so recognise its interactive potential, he is also one of the first artists to make his work with the aid of computers.