Richard Hamilton – reviews of major show at Tate and ICA

Feb 13, 2014

'Knockout' retrospective charts the evolution of leading British Pop artist and magnificent chronicler of his times

What you need to know

Critics have hailed a "knockout" new exhibition surveying the art of Richard Hamilton, at Tate Modern and the ICA. Regarded as one of 20th-century British art's leading lights, Hamilton was a founding figure of the Pop art movement, who continued to experiment and innovate over a career of 60 years.

The Richard Hamilton show spans the Tate Modern and ICA to present a retrospective of Hamilton's entire career, from the 1950s to his final work in 2011. It includes design, posters, painting, photography and television, and features iconic work such as Just what is it that makes modern homes so different, so appealing? along with key images from 1960s London and political art from the Thatcher and Blair eras. 12 February-6 April at the ICA and 13 February-26 May at Tate Modern.

What the critics like

The Richard Hamilton retrospective is "a knockout", says Mark Hudson in the Daily Telegraph. Handsome, lucid and comprehensive, it brings together substantial clusters of work that clearly chart his evolution and does Hamilton proud. 

It is "a massive eye-muddling show", says Rachel Campbell-Johnston in The Times. Hamilton's quick-witted humour and laughing satire strike the viewer first, but what slowly emerges is an underlying sense of compassion, which lends a fundamentally human and timeless dimension to his work. 

This superb retrospective shows Richard Hamilton was a magnificent chronicler of his times, says Adrian Searle in The Guardian. "If anyone doubts his importance, it more than confirms his significance" and reminds us that artists have things to say about the world that are worth attending to.

What they don't like

"Where Hamilton's work falls down is when it tells us too obviously what to think", sometimes with clunky satire, says Mark Hudson in the Telegraph. But if his work is uneven, it's better to be flawed and interesting, than consistent and boring.

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