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    Sale 7602

    Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

    30 June 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 21

    Richard Hamilton (b. 1922)

    Fashion-Plate (Cosmetic-Study VII)

    Price Realised  


    Richard Hamilton (b. 1922)
    Fashion-Plate (Cosmetic-Study VII)
    signed and titled 'Fashion-plate (cosmetic study VII) R. Hamilton' (on the reverse)
    acrylic, paper collage, pastel and cosmetics on lithographic paper
    39½ x 27 5/8in. (100 x 70cm.)
    Executed in 1969

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    Richard Hamilton's Fashion Plates are a series of twelve collaged paintings made in 1969 that explore and expose the artificial and cosmetic language of contemporary popular culture through a progression of portrait heads of female models. In many ways an extension of the pictorial logic Hamilton had pioneered in the late 1950s with the mysterious lyricism of his fractured-image paintings of cars, fridges, toasters and other mass-produced mechanical products of the consumer age, these works bestow the same strangely awkward and alienating sense of robotic hyperrealism upon the modern glamour girl.

    The twelve Fashion plates were all created against the same background, a black and white photograph of a photographic studio belonging to a photographer friend of Hamilton's, Tony Evans. Set against this photograph of an empty photographic studio, Hamilton constructed, using paint, photographs taken from Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and Queen magazines, and even cosmetic make-up itself, an alternating sequence of models displaying a variety of fashion styles. In this way, Hamilton's piece-by-piece collage assemblage of the facial images in these works, coming into being within the spotlit white void at the centre of the photograph of the empty photographic studio, mirrored and mimicked the artificial and cosmetic process of construction that goes into the creation of magazine cover image. At the same time, Hamilton's concern here, in building this assemblage from partial and disparate images has been, not only to reveal the artifice and manufactured nature of the image, but also to create a newer, more powerful, striking and perhaps, truer, fashion or glamour image - one that is pure style and cosmetic surface removed from its single human base.

    In one respect this dramatic distortion of the portrait image into a more striking, mechanical and hyper-real version of itself can be seen as a kind of collage or photographic extension or indeed reversal of the painterly technique of Francis Bacon in his attempt to 'distort' the image back onto a truer and more vital representation of itself. At the same time, in their self-revealing and seemingly automated distortion of fashions images into an over-glamourized robotic 'supermodel', these works also appear to uncannily anticipate the kind of corrective and cosmetic techniques of image manipulation now available and commonly used within both digital photography and plastic surgery.

    In Fashion Plate (cosmetic study VII) the model image developed into a stereotypical country girl complete with broad-brimmed hat, gingham dress and cherries and violets in her hair.

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    Eric Franck, Kusnacht, Switzerland.
    Waddington Graphics, London.
    Massimo Valsecchi, Milan.
    Mario Tazzoli, Switzerland.
    Private Collection, Italy.
    Acquired from the above by the present owner.

    Pre-Lot Text



    Richard Hamilton, Restrospective Paintings and Drawings 1937-2002, exh. cat., Cologne, Ludwig Museum, 2003, no. 190 (illustrated in colour, p. 58).


    London, Tate Gallery, Richard Hamilton, March-April 1970, no. 164 (illustrated, p. 89). This exhibition later travelled to Eindhoven, Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, May-June 1970 and Bern, Kunsthalle, July-August 1970.
    New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Richard Hamilton, September-November 1973.
    Bielefeld, Kunsthalle, Richard Hamilton, Studies-Studien 1937-1977, April-May 1978, no. 128 (illustrated, p. 170). This exhibition later travelled to Tübingen, Kunsthalle, May-June 1978 and Göttingen, Kunstverein, June-July 1978.
    London, Tate Gallery, Richard Hamilton, June-September 1992, no. 63 (illustrated in colour, p. 111). This exhibition later travelled to Dublin, Irish Museum of Modern Art, October 1992-January 1993.