Richard Hamilton

Jonathan Jones makes the claim that Richard Hamilton, who died today, was the most influential postwar British artist:

Richard Hamilton, the most influential British artist of the 20th century, has died aged 89. In his long, productive life he created the most important and enduring works of any British modern painter.

This may sound a surprising claim. We have our national icons and our pop celebrities. But neither Francis Bacon nor Lucian Freud nor Damien Hirst has shaped modern art in the way Hamilton did when he put a lolly with the word POP on it in the hand of a muscleman in his 1956 collage, Just What is it that Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing?

Hamilton has a serious claim to be the inventor of pop art: this collage is a visionary, and yet ironic, manifesto for a new art that would be at home in the modern world.

The BBC’s Waldemar Januszczak tweets some solace to the sad news:

Bloomberg remembers Hamilton‘s role in designing the Beatles’s White Album:

During the interview, Hamilton recalled the invitation he received from Paul McCartney to design the Beatles’ 1968 double album. He gave it a simple white cover — hence its common title of The White Album — and slipped a print inside: a folded collage of Beatles pictures.

McCartney “came to my studio every afternoon from about 2,” Hamilton said. “We had tea, and then he would go off to Abbey Road to do the mixing, and he worked through the night.”

The pair began an odd correspondence. Each would send the other a postcard with the correct name, but an unlikely address. “It was a test to see whether it would find its way!” said Hamilton with a hearty laugh. “I don’t know if any didn’t.”

“I suppose that collection of postcards is now quite unique,” he said. “One day it’ll be in the Tate Gallery, no doubt!”

The Associated Press goes to Nicholas Serota of the Tate for his take:

Tate director Nicholas Serota said Hamilton was “one of the most influential and distinctive artists of the postwar period.”

“Greatly admired by his peers, including (Andy) Warhol and (Joseph) Beuys, Hamilton produced a series of exquisite paintings, drawings, prints and multiples dealing with themes of glamor, consumption, commodity and popular culture,” Serota said.

Richard Hamilton, the Original Pop Artist, Dies at 89 (Jonathan Jones/Guardian)

Richard Hamilton, Father of British Pop Art, Dies at 89 (Bloomberg)

British Pop Artist Richard Hamilton Dies at 89 (Associated Press)