The ICA present two of Richard Hamilton’s iconic installation pieces to coincide with the Tate’s retrospectiveof the truly influential and original British artist. As a member of the Independent Group, Hamilton (1922-2011) had a close relationship with the institute throughout his career, but particularly in his formative years. Six decades after they were originally shown at the ICA’s former location in Dover Street, ‘Man, Machine and Motion’, 1955 and ‘An Exhibit’, 1957 will be restaged along with archival material, allowing us to experience these pivotal works.
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It’s very much the Richard Hamilton season at present. Tate Modern’s major retrospective is accompanied by this restaging of Hamilton’s early work. These two installations - Man, Machine & Motion and An Exhibit - were both first shown at the ICA’s original Dover Street site in the late 1950s. They now return to the ICA, albeit at its new site on The Mall, as part of a celebration of one of Britain’s greatest artists.
Much like the Tate show, both of these pieces show Hamilton’s great technical skill. He had a terrific understanding and use of line, form and perspective, and this is particularly in evidence in An Exhibit. This assortment of perspex sheets, suspended horizontally and vertically, was groundbreaking in it’s day. Unfortunately, as times have moved on, it now feels pretty flat.
Man, Machine & Motion is also less engaging than it might once have been. It consists of 200 black and white photographs of cars, bicycles and other transport subjects. The display (a custom-made steel frame) is clever, but the magic of planes, trains and automobiles no longer endures.
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