Richard Hamilton

Desk (1964)

About this artwork

This work is based on a publicity photograph for a 1948 B-movie called 'Shockproof'. The photograph shows a woman who has just killed a man. In the original he lies hidden behind the desk. Hamilton has adapted the source material by covering some elements, such as the murderer, but retaining others, like the blood on the floor. He has confused reality and illusion by using a photographic reproduction of a real wood veneer on the side of the desk drawer and a painted wood-graining effect on the front. The bright panels of colour in the background are reminiscent of the geometric art of Mondrian. Hamilton has deliberately combined conflicting styles and meanings.

  • title: Desk
  • accession number: GMA 2155
  • artist: Richard HamiltonEnglish (1922 - 2011)
  • gallery: On Loan
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Pop Art
  • date created: 1964
  • measurements: 62.50 x 89.00 cm (framed: 99.10 x 72.40 x 2.50 cm)
  • credit line: Purchased 1980
  • copyright: © Estate of Richard Hamilton. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2016
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

Richard Hamilton

Richard Hamilton

Hamilton was born in London. During the 1950s he was an influential figure in the move away from Abstract Expressionism towards a more intellectual, conceptual type of work. His early preoccupation with consumer culture and the imagery of advertising makes him one of the forerunners of Pop Art. He was much indebted to Marcel Duchamp, introducing wit, irony and dislocation into his work, and avoiding a particular style. It could even be said that style was the subject of his work. He used photography, painting, installation and printmaking, often in combination, and always in a questioning, critical way.