- Richard Hamilton
FASHION-PLATE (COSMETIC STUDY XI)
collage, pastel and cosmetics on lithographed paper
Eric Franck, Geneva
Waddington Galleries, Ltd., London
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner
London, Tate Gallery, Richard Hamilton, 1970, no. 168, illustrated
New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Richard Hamilton, 1973, p. 77, no. 132, illustrated in colour
Bielefeld, Kunsthalle; Tübingen, Kunsthalle; Göttingen, Kunstverein, Richard Hamilton Studies - Studien 1937-1977, 1978, p. 172, no. 132, illustrated
London, Tate Gallery; Dublin, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Richard Hamilton, 1992-1993, p. 112, no. 67, illustrated in colour (also illustrated on p. 171)
Laszlo Glover, Richard Hamilton Retrospective Paintings and Drawings 1937-2002, 2002, p. 59, no. 194, illustrated in colour
The increasing popularity and emphasis on fashion in 1960’s London saw a dramatic reassessment of the boundaries separating art and popular culture. Instrumental to this was Richard Hamilton, who is widely recognised as one of the creators of the British Pop art movement, and the definitive painter of ‘modern’ life.
The Fashion-Plates or Cosmetic-Studies – like other composite works by Hamilton - combine the fine-artist’s approach with materials and forms of mass, commercial culture. Here the sources include contemporary fashion photography and cosmetics, with much of the collage material taken from magazines including Vogue, Queen and Harpers Bizarre.
The Cosmetic-Studies are a carefully worked fusion of the surface emotions and expressions projected by models, with the magazines’ fascination with colour and stylistic innovation. This series is a prime example of the artist’s obsession with the immediate juxtaposition of contrasting visual languages, mediums and forms. The mutation of the human image through interposed devices is a theme also central to Hamilton’s oeuvre, and can be found in such seminal works as Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing? (1956), and My Marilyn (1965).
Executed in 1969 - a year before the first of his Tate Gallery retrospectives in 1970 – Hamilton’s Fashion-Plate series is regarded as one of the artist’s most influential and significant creations from the 1960’s. The series consists of twelve unique studies, which were initially seen as an integrated group. When viewed as such, they reveal the artist’s quasi-scientific approach that goes far beyond the notion of merely tinkering with technique, and illustrate his unwavering determination to think every idea through. His commitment to and development of a subject – in this case exploring the theatrical and bizarre world of fashion shoots and magazines – “has always been that of the locksmith, not that of the dynamiter.”(John Russell in Exhibition Catalogue, New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Richard Hamilton, p.11). Subsequently new pockets of meaning are continually being found in his works, which lends to their distinctive and timeless nature.
Cosmetic-Study XI importantly shares several forms with other plates in the series, such as Varushka’s lips and the theatrical surroundings, yet avoids committing to a common identity. Although Hamilton strove to ensure that each individual component remained distinct in itself, a stronger desire to accentuate the relationships between separate elements underpins the composition, enabling each work to be read as a continuous system.