Published to accompany the free exhibition Richard Hamilton: The Late Works at the National Gallery, London, 10 October 2012 – 13 January 2013.
For decades the most continually provocative of British artists, Richard Hamilton (1922–2011) was long concerned with the great themes of Western painting. This beautifully designed catalogue looks at Hamilton’s long relationship with the National Gallery and the essays discuss how his final artistic statement for it was shaped before and after his death.
In the months before his death, Richard Hamilton planned his exhibition for the National Gallery and decided to display what turned out to be his final work based on Honoré de Balzac’s short story, The Unknown Masterpiece. Knowing he would not complete it, Hamilton decided to show three preparatory versions simultaneously, known as Balzac (a) + (b) + (c). These pictures depict three masters of painting, Poussin, Courbet and the aged Titian contemplating a reclining female nude reflecting on art, beauty and desire.
Hamilton selected paintings that trace the development of his art from the mid-1980s to this final enigmatic meditation. These works introduce several master themes of Hamilton’s art, including single-point perspective and the depiction of interior spaces, the sacred imagery of the Italian Renaissance, and allusions to the art of Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968) of whom Hamilton was an early proponent.
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