London, Tate Gallery,Richard Hamilton, 12 March - 19 April 1970, cat no.134, illus b/w p79, another edition
London, Maltzahn Gallery,Richard Hamilton, Complete Graphics, 6 - 31 July 1970, cat no.13, another edition
Winterthur, Kunstmuseum,Richard Hamilton : exteriors, interiors, objects, people, 15 September - 11 November 1990, cat no.21, another edition, touring to:
Hannover, Kestner-Gesellschaft, 7 December 1990 - 3 February 1991
Valencia, IVAM, Centre Julio Gonzalez, 23 February - 4 April 1991
Winterthur, Kunstmuseum,Richard Hamilton, Prints and Multiples 1939-2002, 31 August - 24 November 2002, cat no.70, illus colour, touring to:
New Haven, CT, Yale Centre for British Art, 12 February - 24 May 2004, another edition
Edinburgh, Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden,Richard Hamilton, Protest Pictures 1963-2008, 31 July - 12 October 2008, cat no.7, another edition
London, Serpentine Gallery,Richard Hamilton, Modern Moral Matters, 3 March - 25 April 2010, cat no., illus colour p35, another edition
Waddington Graphics,Richard Hamilton, Prints 1939-83, Edition Hansjorg Mayer, Stuttgart/London, 1984, cat no.68, illus colour p51
Richter Verlag,Richard Hamilton, Prints and Multiples 1939-2002, 2002, p90, cat no.70 illus colour p91
Andrew Wilson,Richard Hamilton, Swingeing London 67 (f), One Work Series, Afterall Books, 2011, cat no.3, illus colour
In February 1967 police raided the country home of Keith Richards looking for drugs. The arrest of members of the Rolling Stones, and their entourage, made headline news for weeks and the story rapidly transformed into a parable of the age. Lurid background details about the band’s lifestyle, were accompanied by photographic images of the beautiful protagonists. The drip-feed of images fuelled the story and with the inevitable schadenfreude came more serious questions about the limits of individual freedom and the changing nature of British society.
Robert Fraser was Richard Hamilton’s art dealer and the artist was understandably outraged by Fraser’s imprisonment for possession of heroin. He signed a joint letter of protest to The Times on 24 July 1967 and organised a group exhibition in support of Fraser while he was in prison. Down but not out, Fraser’s London gallery remained open during his trial and subsequent prison sentence, Jagger and Richards escaped jail. Throughout this time, a clippings service duly delivered every newspaper article mentioning Fraser to his gallery. Hamilton, recognising the value of this ‘ready-made’ artwork, asked to borrow the stack of clippings from Fraser’s secretary - and turned them into Swingeing London 67, (fig 1). a lithographic poster in which the artist made very little intervention, placing the, often contradictory, press articles side by side and adding just a few brushstrokes of colour and small elements of collage. The title ironically contrasted the ‘swingeing’ (severe and excessive) nature of the punishment, with the so-called ‘Swinging 60’s’, a phrase which had gained momentum after appearing in the headline of a Time magazine article, ‘London: The Swinging City’, the year before.
Following this first poster work, Hamilton zoned in on just one image from the collection, a photo taken by John Twine for the Daily Mail, which showed Robert Fraser and Mick Jagger handcuffed, in a police van, on their way to court. While arguably accidental, the image is both formally complex and resonant with allusions. The dramatic, chiaroscuro lighting (produced by the camera flashes) and the figures’ expressive hands, both recall renaissance paintings of The Fall or religious icons. The formal coincidence of the multiple frames - the nearside window which frames the entire scene, the way the sliding glass window bisects and separates the two figures, the frames of Fraser’s glasses and then yet more windows on the far side of the van, must have delighted an artist whose subject is modes of representation. The various notions of seeing and not-seeing– Fraser’s sunglasses, the covered eyes, the windows which look like film-frames, the imagined public gaze – suggest biblical and mythological tales, banishments and blindings.
This single image became the source material for six mixed-media paintings, each measuring 67 x 85 cm, the last of which, Swingeing London 67 (f), 1968-9 was acquired by the Tate Gallery (fig 2). Hamilton used a similar palette of colours in each, working up the backgrounds in various painterly styles, with the graphic detail supplied by a black silkscreen overlay. In the Tate’s version, the handcuffs are picked out in glinting aluminium collage. These six works were originally intended as studies for a further mixed-media work, Swingeing London 67, wherein the frame of the police van’s windows (not seen in the first six paintings) is made in wood relief, adding a highly sculptural element to the work.
Swingeing London 67 -etching, 1968, is the only etching on this subject and was Hamilton’s first since use of the medium since the early 1950s. Later, in 1972, he produced a screenprint with collage, Release, to raise funds for the charity of the same name, and three other prints in small editions, The Sweet Smell of Incense a) and b) made with Dieter Roth and Swingeing London III. Here, Hamilton continues his exploration of different modes of representation, generating a range of surface textures using different techniques. The composition relates to the work on paper, Swingeing London 67 – sketch, 1968, (fig 3), which focused in more closely on the faces of Fraser and Jagger. On the left, the pane of glass in front of Fraser’s face becomes a rhombus of aquatint, the duo-tone referring back to the original newspaper clipping. On the right, Mick Jagger appears as a sketchy drawing, the absence of detail, speaking both to the lack of clarity (moral/literal) around the subject and the inadequacy of the medium as the means to convey the story. The reflective quality of the foil adds an abrupt shock to the pictorial space, sitting on the surface of the paper, disrupting our expectations of the medium. Equally, the areas of blind embossing describing Jagger’s shirt and Fraser’s cuff and the shiny black paper used for Fraser’s sunglasses draw our attention to the object quality of the artwork. The 1970 Tate Gallery catalogue notes that the etching plates were made, and the images printed, in Milan with the collage elements added by hand in London. Hamilton used silver foil in other graphic works from this period, see for example Toaster, 1967, where we are invited to see ourselves reflected in the product.
Hamilton’s printmaking spanned his whole career and his graphic works were as integral to his practise and as rigorously conceived as his paintings. Hamilton was the subject of a major retrospective at Tate Modern in 2014. The Tate’s painting Swingeing London 67 (f), was the key image used to promote the exhibition, which included eleven works from the series. In total the series comprises one poster, seven paintings, five prints and a small number of drawings, all made between 1968 and 1972. The formal concerns and socio-political issues raised by these works, have been extensively analysed by academics and writers, and this group of works continues to resonate and gather further interpretations. In 2011, Tate curator, Andrew Wilson, wrote the 130 page book, Swingeing London 67 (f), for Afterall Books’, One Work series, a contemporary extended essay which places this artwork both within Hamilton’s oeuvre and its historical context.