EXHIBITION – As an artist in search of inspiration, the arrest of your dealer might not be your go-to choice of subject matter.
But then this isn't the swinging '60s and most artists are not the Pop Art legend, Richard Hamilton (1922-2011).
After his dealer, Robert Fraser, was arrested along with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards at Richards' home in Sussex in 1967, Hamilton based his Swingeing London 67 series of prints and paintings on a newspaper photograph of a handcuffed Fraser and Jagger taken through a prison van window. It is now surely one of British Pop Art's best known images.
A major retrospective of Hamilton's work has just opened at Tate Modern until May 26, with another exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (until 6 April), and to coincide with those shows print specialists Alan Cristea Gallery have mounted a show called Richard Hamilton: Word and Image, Prints 1963-2007, at 31 & 34 Cork Street in Mayfair until March 22.
Alan Cristea first met Hamilton in 1974 and worked closely with the artist for over 30 years. The gallery is now the distributor of Hamilton's prints and the show includes 51 prints from both the estate and their own stock, images of protest alongside portraits, interiors and landscapes.
The 1956 collage Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing? is possibly Hamilton's most famous work. A 1991 print of this is included in the show, alongside one of his earliest experiments with screen printing, Adonis in Y fronts from 1963.
Hamilton said that Pop Art was meant to be "popular, transient, expendable, low cost, mass-produced, young, witty, sexy, gimmicky, glamorous, and Big Business".
Big business it certainly still is, but expendable and low cost not so much - prices here range from £1800 to £60,000.