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Swingeing London '67, Richard Hamilton

Photograph of two men with their hands cuffed together, shielding their faces from the viewer. The photograph is encased in a metal frame made to look like the door of a car.

Richard Hamilton, Swingeing London ’67, 1968, Relief, screenprint on oil on photograph on hardboard, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Wilson Gift through Art Fund, 2006) © Richard Hamilton 2020. All rights reserved, DACS

At a glance

Artist: Richard Hamilton

Date: 1968

Materials: Relief, screenprint on oil on photograph on hardboard

Acquisition: Wilson Gift through Art Fund (2006)

On 12th February 1967, lead singer of the Rolling Stones Mick Jagger and the art dealer Robert Fraser were arrested for possessing drugs following a house party at Keith Richard’s home in West Wittering, West Sussex.

Hamilton’s work shows Jagger and Fraser hand-cuffed together in a police van travelling to Chichester Magistrates Court. He aimed to comment on the sensationist media accounts of the arrests and protest the ‘swingeing sentence’ imposed on his friends. Richard Hamilton was represented by Robert Fraser, and was one of the signatories of a letter published in The Times titled ‘The law against marijuana is immoral in principle and unworkable in practice.’

Hamilton created six different screenprints of Swingeing London from a photograph that was published in the Daily Mail. In this version, Hamilton added paint and metallized acetate to emphasise the handcuffs. He included a frame that aims to replicate the windows of a police van.

Richard Hamilton was a leading figure in Pop art. He is best known for his collaged prints such as Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing? which both celebrates and questions the rise of consumer culture in the late 1950s and 1960s. In 1956 Hamilton participated in the pioneering This is Tomorrow exhibition at Whitechapel Art Gallery where artists and architects were asked to exhibit their vision of the future.