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Richard Hamilton’s Le Chef-d’oeuvre inconnu

Richard Hamilton, Le Chef-d’oeuvre inconnu—a painting in three parts, 2011, ink jet on canvas, each 44 x 69 1/4". Unfinished.

RICHARD HAMILTON’S Le Chef-d’oeuvre inconnu—a painting in three parts, 2011, was left unfinished at the time of the artist’s death, at the age of eighty-nine, in September 2011. Whereas he had originally intended the work to be a single painting, it now exists as three canvases, each showing a different stage of the unfinished project. This was how it was exhibited in “Richard Hamilton: The Late Works” at the National Gallery in London this past winter.

All three versions are ink-jet prints, produced after the artist’s death, of Photoshop files incorporating found, photographed, and digitally manipulated imagery. The first shows Hamilton’s original idea; it is a fairly developed collage of digital source material worked over via digital painting. He intended to make an actual, nondigital painting based on this collage, and produced a basic digital preparatory drawing in pale

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