03 August, 2005

duchamp & hamilton

From the Green Box to Typo/Topography: Duchamp and Hamilton's dialogue in print.

Although Duchamp is seldom cited as a printmaker, aspects of his work continue to hold resonance for contemporary print and photographic practice. In terms of print theory Duchamp’s astute use of printing techniques to convey the degree of information sought from an image precede the theories about print syntax put forward by Ivings in the 1950s and extended by Crawford and Jussims in the 1970s by at least a decade.19 Duchamp’s questioning of the notion of originality has also had a profound influence on modern print, ultimately triggering the revolution in print expression exemplified by photomechanically driven vehicle of Pop Art. Although Duchamp’s influence has extended to a wide range of contemporary artists, in many ways few have pursued the visionary implications of Duchamp’s work as keenly as Richard Hamilton.

Through his research and artwork, Hamilton has followed Duchamp’s shrewdly devised clues, transmuting them from media to media and syntax to syntax inducing new degrees of perception and meaning. Unlike many print-based artists, Hamilton has exploited the value of combining different print media to extract and convey ideas rather than simply honing skills in a single medium. While in previous decades Hamilton employed highly skilled printers from both the fine art and industrial sectors to assist in transferring images in this way, the expansive capabilities of computer technology have now more than adequately fulfilled this possibility. Through virtual simulation, a myriad of print languages lie at the artists fingertips. The photographic detail and resolution previously accessed by both Duchamp and Hamilton through collotype can now be captured and manipulated digitally with the spontaneity of a painter to produce prints which exceed well beyond the previous languages of print.
extracts from here Tate Papers
This paper examines Marcel Duchamp's use of the collotype printing process for publishing the contents of his Green Box and Boîte-en-valise in the 1930s. It subsequently traces the linguistic and graphic interpretations of this work by the British artist Richard Hamilton in his 1960 The Green Book and in his recent fusion of this work with the 'topography' of the Large Glass in the print Typo/Topography, published in 2003.

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