Mick Jagger, arrested by the police for possession of drugs and handcuffed, enters the Reina Sofía

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Rita Donagh, widow of Richard Hamilton (Londres, 1922-2011), has donated to Reina Sofia Museum one of the multidisciplinary artist’s works dedicated to the British rock band Rolling Stones. Is about ‘Swingeing London 67’, recreated in a photograph of its leader, Mick Jagger, who appears with the well-known art dealer Robert Fraser, at the time they are taken into custody in a police van for drug possession. The news had excessive international news coverage, and for more than two years Hamilton used the well-known image of Jagger in handcuffs to show it in different formats and supports – grainy, blurred, burned by the flash or saturating the colors – in order to amplify his effects.

The title of this controversial photographic-pictorial series, ‘Swingeing London 67’, refers to a term applied to the fashion and culture scene that flourished in London in the 1960s. The image, more than a protest against the action of justice, can be understood as a reflection on the vicissitudes of celebrity. Hamilton decided to do test studies and sketches on canvas, towards an ideal fusion of print and paint. In each painting in the series, the artist uses different techniques and materials: oil paint, enamel paint, half-ink screen printing, relief and collage.

For the Reina Sofía Museum this donation, valued at about 2,400,000 euros, represents an exceptional opportunity to reinforce the nucleus of the pictorial collection of the sixties, from its international perspective. At the same time, it will allow you to address elements of popular and mass culture and its use to criticize or question visual saturation in modern and contemporary society. Other canvas versions of the work are part of the collections of the Sammlung Ludwig, Tate Modern, MoMA, or in the private collection of Mick Jagger, among others.

Unpacking of Hamilton’s work on the Reina Sofía – REINA SOFIA MUSEUM

Father of Pop Art

Richard Hamilton (Londres, 1922-2011) He was an indisputable figure in multidisciplinary art in the second half of the 20th century. He began his professional path in an advertising agency to later study painting at the Royal Academy Schools and the Slade School of Arts. His work from the fifties is related to the british pop and highlights his participation as founder of lndependent Group, a collective formed in 1950, whose debates contributed precisely to the development of British pop art. Hamilton’s training led him to eliminate the differences between high and low culture in relation to art, since he was trained both in the traditional techniques of the School of Fine Arts and in commercial art and design.

In the 1950s, he participated in the discussions of the Independent Group in relation to the concepts of popular culture, advertising and mass media art (1952-1955). Also from this period was his famous collage ‘What / s ít that Makes Today’s Homes So Dífferent, So Appea / íng?’ produced for the Whitechapel Art Gallery exhibition (1956), London, which became an emblematic and fundamental work of the Pop Art. Since the sixties, Hamilton’s work has developed essentially in two ways, one directed at the challenge posed by the approach to the conceptual from the influential figures of Duchamp and Joyce, and on the other hand the works in which the painting speaks or refers to the painting itself.

Throughout his entire career, Richard Hamilton tested the validity of painting through the dialogue with other mediasuch as photography, design, advertising, architecture, printmaking or digital imaging. Likewise, he explored the genres of portraiture, still life or landscape, from the appropriation of existing images and the links established with both historical and contemporary artists. He also highlighted his facet as political activist, showing disagreement with what was happening in his country and in the world through his work.

He participated in the Kassel Documenta (1968 and 1977), the Sao Paulo Biennial (1989), or the Venice Biennale in 1993. His work is present in different European and North American museums and public collections such as the Tate Modern in London , the MACBA in Barcelona, ​​the Pompidou Center in Paris, the MoMA in New York or Reina Sofía himself, with several works dated between 1949 and 1981, most of them from the temporary deposit that Rita Donagh made in favor of the museum in 2014, year in which he dedicated an anthological exhibition to the artist.

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