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Microcosmos (Plant Cycle) by Richard Hamilton


In the early 1950s Hamilton was interested in the formal qualities of the scientific images of the natural world. This is one of a series of prints which Hamilton produced immediately prior to his work on the exhibition 'Growth and Form' which he curated for the ICA. The exhibition displayed scientific films, photographs, photomicrographs and models and was based on the ideas of D'Arcy Wentworth's book Growth and Form. Wentworth had written 'I know that in the material study of material things, number, order and position are the threefold clues to exact knowledge' and explored how the knowledge of form was the key to understanding in both science and art. By displaying the images without explanatory labels the show focused attention on the formal qualities of scientific material. Equally the show emphasised how the invention of new scientific optical machinery had simultaneously extended the scientists knowledge of form and revealed a new visual environment for the artist. This print relies on the progression of repeated motifs to create structure and composition and has links with Wentworth's ideas that the mechanics of growth determined form and that mathematical structures could be found in all organisms.

Lit: Herbert Read, Foreward to Growth and Form, Exhib Catalogue, ICA, 1951
Waddington Graphics, Richard Hamilton Prints: A Complete Catalogue of Graphic Works 1939-1983, Stuttgart and London: Waddington Graphics: Edition Hansjorg Mayer, 1984.
Artist:Richard Hamilton
Artwork type:print
Material:etching, drypoint, aquatint, engraving and punches on paper
Measurements:Sheet: 289 x 411 mm Plate: 226 x 176 mm
Technique:etching, drypoint, aquatint, engraving and punches
Date:1950
Location:College Art Collections, University College London (Slade School Collections)
Culture:British
Rights owner:Richard Hamilton
Rights status:UK HE use only
Institution:Slade School of Art
Notes:Signed and numbered 6/20 in pencil

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