The British artist, Richard Hamilton, has died aged 89. One of his most famous works was ‘My Marilyn’ (1966), one of the few pop art pieces that succeeds in showing Marilyn as a human being as well as an icon.
“In ‘My Marilyn’, Hamilton takes as his source material George Barris’ colour photographs of Marilyn Monroe published after her death. Hamilton wrote: ‘M.M. demanded that the results of the photographic sessions be submitted to her for vetting before publication. She made indications, brutally and beautifully in conflict with the image, or on proofs and transparencies to give approval or reject, or suggestions for retouching that might make it acceptable.’ From these photographs Hamilton produced a series of black and white enlargements in three formats which he arranged as a collage for the first photographic screen for the print. This was used as the basis of a series of further manipulations for different versions. Hamilton preserved Marilyn’s own marks of approval or rejection, commenting that ‘The aggressive obliteration of her own image has a self-destructive implication that her death made all the more poignant: there is also a fortuitous narcissism, for the negating cross is also the childish symbol for a kiss.’ “