LONDON - Release by Richard Hamilton depicts Mick Jagger and art dealer Robert Fraser – nicknamed ‘Groovy Bob’ – during their claustrophobic ride to court on 28 June 1967, handcuffed to each other in a prison van, shying away from the paparazzi. Commenting on this press image, Hamilton stated: “I had felt a strong personal indignation at the insanity of legal institutions which could jail anyone.” What better encapsulation of the late 1960s than Hamilton’s mournful war cry, lashing out against the moral backlash to the liberalisation of the 1960s.
Release will be offered at Sotheby’s London Made in Britain sale on 25 March 2014, alongside a group of other important prints by Hamilton. From 13 February to 26 May 2014, Tate Modern will also be presenting the first retrospective to encompass the full scope of Hamilton’s work.
The screenprint derives its title from the name of an organisation created to provide legal aid and social support to individuals who have fallen foul of the law, often as a result of drug abuse. In 1972, Diana Melly (writer and wife of jazz singer George Melly) asked Hamilton if he would make a print to help raise funds for the organisation, which was in dire need of financial support at the time.
Works in the series Swingeing London are all based on the same image – a photograph taken by John Twine, published in the Daily Sketch newspaper on 29 June 1967. Hamilton had come across the image during one of his visits to Fraser’s gallery.
Richard Hamilton's Swingeing London.
The completed print Release combines seventeen colour screens and the photographic black screen, with an additional collage of die-cut silver on the handcuffs and highlights on Fraser’s glasses. The photographic half tone was used to emphasise the documentary source of the image, parodying reportage.
Like Hamilton, Jim Dine and David Hockney had both exhibited works in Fraser’s gallery. The police closed down Dine’s 1966 exhibition, with the gallery being prosecuted for exhibiting works described as ‘obscene.’ Hamilton felt strongly that Fraser’s punishment was inappropriate and Release shows his strong feelings towards the way his friends were treated.
The Made in Britain sale will be accepting consignments until late December. Please contact the department for further information or Lydia Wingfield Digby, Deputy Director and Specialist within the Modern & Post-War British Art Department on +442072935268 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Yessica Marks, Cataloguer/Assistant Prints within the Prints department on +442072935212 or email@example.com