The exhibition Richard Hamilton: Prints and Multiples, 1939–2002 was accompanied by Just what was it that made British Pop so different, so appealing?—an exhibition selected from the Center’s permanent collection of prints, drawings, rare books, and manuscripts. Tracing the development of British Pop from its original formulation by the Independent Group in the mid-1950s to its exuberant flowering in the sixties, Just what was it that made British Pop so different, so appealing? featured works by Hamilton’s contemporaries, including Peter Blake, David Hockney, John McHale, R. B. Kitaj, and Eduardo Paolozzi. The exhibition featured two of the most celebrated portfolios of the Pop era, Paolozzi’s As is When and Hockney’s Rake’s Progress, and also included rare material documenting the activities of the Independent Group, selected from the archive of John McHale, one of its founding members.
Two documentary films were screened in the exhibition. Fathers of Pop (1979, directed by Reyner Banham and Julian Cooper) charted the creation and activities of the Independent Group. James Scott collaborated closely with Richard Hamilton on the making of the seminal documentary Richard Hamilton (1969, directed by James Scott), and the artist even created the commentary; as Scott noted, “Hamilton was so involved in making the film, you could say it is as much by him as about him.”
Just what was it that made British Pop so different, so appealing? was organized by the Yale Center for British Art and curated by Gillian Forrester, Associate Curator of Prints and Drawings; with Sarah Cree and Eric Stryker, PhD candidates in the Department of the History of Art, Yale University.