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- Shae Eakright
Clipping images from American magazines, Richard Hamilton creates an image of a home that challenges viewers to acknowledge the materialistic thoughts that consumed their minds. As a photomontage, Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing?, contains several images cut from different sources and appears to be inspired however much by the style and medium of the Dada Movement. The economy in Britain at the time Hamilton created this piece was suffering from the war. The British people were left with few consumer indulgences. As a result of this, the British people appreciated the advancements in technology and the mass amounts of consumerism found in America. Richard Hamilton is just one of the many British artists who embraced and admired American culture, using it in his art to depict on of the themes of the Pop Art Movement.
First it is important to note the setting that is illustrated in this image. It is clear that the figures are placed in a home. By looking into each of the objects, we can deduct that it is probably a living room. Hamilton has added several features to this work of art that help viewers identify it as a living room, and multiple consumer products that were growing in popularity at the time. There is a couch in the lower right hand corner as well as a couple lounging chairs found around the room. One of the chairs has a newspaper laying open draped over the armrest. A coffee table is placed in front of the couch and supports a teacup and coaster, a napkin, what appears to be a pastry, and a couple books. Next to the couch and the coffee table is a television with a bowl on fruit sitting on top of it. The TV is on and showing either a show or an ad with a beautiful woman, wearing a pearl necklace, talking on the phone. A side table sets next to the chair in the center of the image and holds a lamp and a decorative plant. A couple other decorative plants are placed in the room in other areas as well. An area rug with an unusual pattern fills much of the floor. There is a staircase leading up to a door on the left of the image. On the staircase is a woman using a Hoover vacuum cleaner. Framed photos and posters hang on the wall. Besides the woman on the staircase there are two main figures that occupy the room.
Hamilton also made sure to add some features and items that wouldn’t be found in the typical living room to make viewers question the automatic assumption that this is a living room. To start, the living room is not sheltered by a ceiling or roof; instead there is an opening that shows an enlarged image of the earth in space. The unusual rug covering the living room floor is actually an distant view of people covering a beach. Besides the lack of a ceiling, there are several other small details that stand out, making this an unusual interpretation of a living room. There is a tape recorder sitting in the middle of the living room floor. A canned ham rests on the coffee table, acting almost like a vase or decorative sculpture. The Ford logo covers the larger than normal lampshade that is near the center of the image. Instead of art or pictures of family members, the framed photos on the wall are a large comic book poster and a traditional nineteenth century portrait. The comic book poster is titled “young Romance” and shows an idealized woman standing static with a man holding each of her arms and another man standing behind the two of them. The large window on the side of the wall containing the door opens up to reveal a theater. The vacuum being used reaches from the floor level to the top of the staircase and has an arrow pointing to a spot roughly half the length of the hose that states, “ordinary cleaners reach only this far.” The two main figures in the image are out of place for the environment they are place in. The man positioned slightly off-center is standing in a body builder pose and looking directly at the viewers. He is wearing only his underwear and is holding a giant Tootsie Pop. The Tootsie Pop has the word “POP” printed on it in big letters; possibly referencing the art movement that this piece is associated with. The sucker appears to be pointing in the direction of the female figure that is seated on the couch. The woman is only wearing a lampshade on her head and couple small pieces of fabric barely covering her breasts. She is situated in a suggestive pose that appears to be very uncomfortable for relaxing on the couch.
Hamilton provides viewers with a work of art that includes several topics such as male and female stereotypes, consumerism, mass media, and new developments in technology.
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