Richard Hamilton, Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing?, 1956, collage on paper, 10¼” x 9¾”, Kunsthalle Tübingen, Sammlung Zundel, Germany. Photo by Ian Burt under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

RIP Richard Hamilton

The British Pop artist Richard Hamilton passed away earlier this week.

Some people think that Pop Art strictly was an American art movement, but it actually started in England with Richard Hamilton and his artist friends.  At the end of a long recession following the devastation of the Second World War, England was flooded with manufactured goods from America.  A group of British artists, including Hamilton, responded to this commercialism with their cynical and sarcastic works of art.

The title of this work of art asks the question, “Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing?”  The answer is American manufactured goods: comic books, televisions, Fords, canned ham, vacuum cleaners, and tape recorders.  The burlesque dancer and the muscle man holding a strategically placed Tootsie Pop are there to make the point that sex sells.  “Pop” also describes the art movement, and this is one of the first instances that term was used.

Note the date; Andy Warhol wouldn’t paint Campbell soup cans for another six years.

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