Piece Of The Week: Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing // Richard Hamilton

For this week’s ‘Piece Of The Week’ it seems apt to go into the world of Pop Art to celebrate with BBC 4’s dedicated week to Pop Art. It seems only right to go to the origins of Pop Art.

This week the title of Piece Of The Week goes to Richard Hamilton’s ‘Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing?’

‘Just What Is It…’ is a collage piece made up from various magazines that glamourize what was then considered the new, exciting, and modern of the time. Pop Art was a leap from the spiritual and serious endeavour of the Abstract Expressionists; Pop Art was a celebration of the plastic, the throw away, and a way to mock the seriousness of the visual arts. This is perfectly embodied in the piece by British Pop Artist, Richard Hamilton.

As mentioned, Pop Art was a way to celebrate the ordinary and everyday by turning it into something spectacular, worth a fortune – an irony that can’t be lost when you consider how much a Warhol soup can would have cost. Hamilton’s collages kick-started this idea of celebrating the Western world of the late 50s/early 60s by featuring every day things such as lollipops and vacuum cleaners alongside perfectly chiseled men that could pass off as Greek sculptures, contrasting formal elements of expressionism with tongue-in-cheek depictions of the modern world. ‘Just What Is It…’ is a witty, playful piece that embodies everything that Pop Art is about.

‘Just What Is It…’ is currently located in Kunsthalle Tübingen in Germany.

If you’re interested in Pop Art and its history, BBC 4 are showing a series of documentaries ranging from the art and the artists to the music that evolved through the development of Pop Art.

Words by Selene Mortimore

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