17 November - 23 December 1998

Richard Hamilton

New Technology and Printmaking

    Since he began printmaking in 1939, Richard Hamilton's relationship with the various processes and technologies the medium offers has been rich and diverse. In his choice of subject matter and the means of production he has consistently reassessed and initiated the way one creates a graphic image. There have been few twentieth century artists for whom the processes behind their work have been so original and so important, and even fewer who could claim to have used previously unexplored technologies to the extent he has.

    The exhibition consists of over twenty pieces dating from 1968 to 1998. In each case the pursuit of a particular image has required Hamilton to employ a single or combination of techniques 2which has not been used before. In the portfolio, Five Tyres Remoulded, for example, he used computers to resolve the complex perspective problems that occurred when he first began and abandoned the project in 1963. The final product is a unique combination of materials and technology.

    More recently, in works such as Bathroom Fig. 1., Hamilton has developed images using complex graphics packages. Commissioned for Documenta X, this piece represents his first attempt at editioning a print directly from a computer. In order to create the haunting and beautiful image he first had to overcome the problems of using new, unstable inks and of translating technology into a tangible artistic dialogue.

    Hamilton has written extensively on both the theory and practice of print production and in doing to has challenged many of our pre-existing notions about the medium. This exhibition and catalogue will highlight the importance of his work both at the time it was produced and as a precedent for so many strands of contemporary artistic practice today.

    Ever since Richard Hamilton made his first drypoint etching half a century ago, printmaking has been of absolutely central importance to his work. On the one hand, he has constantly tapped and extended the potential of time honoured techniques such as etching and engraving. On the other hand he has repeatedly initiated previously unknown techniques. Furthermore, printmaking has constantly informed his painting and indeed has been an essential component of many of his unique works.

    The exhibition to be held at the Alan Cristea Gallery will consist of over thirty prints dating from 1964 to 1998. Every print in the exhibition makes use of media or combinations of media which have never previously been employed in the history of printmaking. In the portfolio Five Tyres Remoulded, dating from 1971, he was the first artist to use the computer to resolve the complex perspective problems that occurred when he first treated the subject in an image called "Five Tyres Abandoned" dating from 1963.

    In many of his recent prints he has used various forms of digital technology to create images which are printed directly from the computer. He has resolved the problems of the unstable inks endemic to inkjet printing to create a series of haunting images which extend the scope of printmaking to an unprecedented degree.

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