portrait of this blog's author - by Stephen Blackman 2008

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hey geeks! I know you're out there!

 Just some technical data fer yew! Since I sent 'the blog nobody reads' hurtling over into the area of servicing you with fine, fine music a lot of things have happened and here they are:

There have been offered nearly 300 files of music - update: for those who asked (well OK one person did!) that's nearly 25% Bob Dylan! well OK, OK for the pernickety actually as I've made available some 70 discs of His Bobness that's just over 23% but who's counting?! [YOU are! ED].....plenty more still to come!

That's nearly 30 Gigabytes

Nearly 9,000 of you have down loaded stuff (well no, that could be three of 'em downloading 9 thousand times. Don't get carried away!ED)

Over 11,800 hits on the blog

That's a bandwidth served of 860 Gigabytes!

Soon as we hit these targets I will offer something special, like last years Christmas Hamper!

actually......it'll soon be Christmas.........is there anything you want to ask Santa for? And I'll go out and get it!

Hey ho, people stay safe out there and remember, winter draws on..........."the wolves are running"

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Yas, Oh Yas! Can you dig it? I think you can............ oh I see....lots of you [who? ED] think its a joke....look it's just 'Pop' mewsic...I think its incredibly funny! .....and a laugh that you can dance to is what its' always been about hasn't it? It made me smile and tap my feet……Listen to Marley's closing rap at the end and you'll suss it out. This is BRILLIANT! Lots of 'rich people cashing in and making more money'? Well yes, that's what they do! And we love it! Put it back on and forget your cynicism and dance around the room. THIS IS MY HIT OF THE SUMMER! (what Summer? ED) Mick Jagger in a pink suit? I think so! Can anyone else carry this off? Nope! Go Mick, Go Joss, Go Dave, Go A.R., Go Damian! Yougottawalkndon'tlookback! :o)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Richard Hamilton 
24 February 1922 – 13 September 2011
© Mark Blower
It is with great sadness I learned yesterday of the passing of artist and 'Father of Pop Art', Richard Hamilton. As a young art student I was fortunate enough to visit him, first with my fellow degree students and lecturers, composer Gavin Bryars and historian Fred Orton, as we had formed a 'Marcel Duchamp' study group and Richard had been a conduit for many things Duchampian, not least having met him and also reconstructed Duchamp's 'Large Glass' work of art -  a tremendous undertaking he and his students at Newcastle took on with Duchamp's blessing.
Richard with a Duchamp 'Readymade' replica

Richard around the time I interviewed him - note Rita over his shoulder
I however wanted to know more about Richard and returned to interview him in 1976 for my final paper and interviewed him at length and with much patience and generosity from him about his work and the existence of something called 'Pop Art'. His then partner and wife to be and artist in her own right, the lovely Rita Donagh, was a gracious host and treated us to possibly too much whisky of the finest kind and my memories of those visits has stayed with me, not least Richard hurtling me back through the London Streets in his beloved Porsche from Highgate to the train station to catch my train back to Leicester where I was at degree college.

Hugh Gaitskill as a Famous Monster of Film Land



Swingeing London

His work had a profound influence on me, even earlier as a younger student about what it was possible to make art from and 'about'. At college I reconstructed several of my own homages to his ideas with a reconstruction of his 'Postcard piece' which astonishingly works remarkably well and I still challenge people to try it. These were probably the inspiration for my last works of my own based on crowd scenes taken from photographs in a similar manner.....
Later on when I worked at Oxford's Museum of Modern Art they were among my very favourite visitors and were always friendly and solicitous of my well being. Rita affectionate and inquisitive of my family and the children, Richard always friendly if more self absorbed somehow but always interested enough to chat and when eventually I had a small exhibition of my own work with the artist Graham Dean in Blackwell's then Paperback Bookshop, they were gracious enough to come to the private view and sign our visitors book. When Rita had a show of her own work at MOMAO (really worth checking out - it's unique and political voice combined with a beauty & style all its own) we had lunch and drinks in the local pubs and they were always fascinating and solicitous of others . Simply two of the loveliest people one would wish to spend time with.
I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas
Richard by Francis Bacon - from 'Polaroid Portraits'

He is of great importance in Modern British art, had a keen eye for Design as Art hence the Porsche, the ubiquitous denim, to Kickers boots and their final collaborative work their home in Northend Oxfordshire which stands as a Hamilton/Donagh work of art in itself. He was central to the Art of the time and possessed a keen sense of the Zeitgeist and what was good and bad about Britain.
Shock and Awe
Kent State

The Citizen

The State

The Apprentice

The piece about the preposterous busting of Mick Jagger for some pot, the Beatles White album cover show him to have a sense of other kinds of 'pop'. That he coined the term 'Pop Art' is well documented from the 1955 catalogue for the exhibition 'This is Tomorrow' that the little collage "Just What Is it that Makes Today's Homes so Appealing" which features the word 'Pop' and in a letter to Peter & Alison Smithson where he is quoted as defining Pop as " popular, transient, expendable, low-cost, mass-produced, young, witty, sexy, gimmicky, glamorous, and Big Business" somewhat tongue in cheek for Pop Art itself he felt was a misnomer in terms of the artists we now come to think of as pop as being a movement or singular grouping of artists.
Carrying 'Epiphany'

Early books on the subject include Jasper Johns, Jim Dine,  RB Kitaj, David Hockney Larry Rivers, Robert Rauschenberg, and Colin Self for example and none of whom can be considered Pop Artists like Warhol or Roy Lichtenstein who chose modern cultural icons to portray. It is just too simple a term to address the work of Kitaj or Hockney and certainly not Hamilton himself with his cerebral, political and up to the minute sense of the world expanding around us. One of the first to incorporate multi-media and cutting edge technology in his work, His work includes state of the art audio amplifiers as painting, computer work the like of which is years ahead of anyone else working in the area of fine art 'painting'

 Hockney tribute:

Dear Richard, a very fascinating man and artist in my life. He was always part of another art world from the Royal College of Art. He was of course a great friend of Duchamp and a very early promoter of him in England. He was a great stalwart of the old ICA when it was in Dover Street and had a purpose. He would do interviews with young artists and always encouraged them: he introduced Joseph Beuys and Dieter Roth – then "little-known continental artists" – mostly at the ICA but also at his very modern house in north London. He always had very interesting guests. He also seemed to love ambiguity. Once at an ICA discussion, Duchamp was asked for an opinion ... I've even forgotten the subject, but he stood up and we thought he said "Beware ... French painting", a loaded phrase at the time, perhaps an attack on belle peinture. It was Richard who eventually found out that what he had really said was "Beware – fresh paint". All interpretations were interesting to Richard. He taught me a lot, as he did a lot of other artists.                         David Hockney

A great man who will be missed and his place in art history may only come to true light upon his passing. Though I left the 'art world' some 12 years ago now, I shall miss him and my thoughts got out to Rita and his son Roderic.


Update: I have been sent today a great little portrait shot of Richard by local photographer/artist and friend Paddy Summerfield

Richard Hamilton through John Hoole's glasses © Paddy Summerfield