My Marilyn (a)
screenprint in colours, 1965, on wove paper, signed and dated oct 65 in pencil, inscribed trial proof 3/5, printed by the artist at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, before the edition of 75 published by Editions Alecto, London
Image 525 x 630 mm.
Sheet 686 x 1016 mm.
With Marlborough Graphics, New York (their label verso).
Lullin 58
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Lot Essay

Richard Hamilton based his important early screenprint My Marilyn on a series of contact sheets of a smiling Marilyn Monroe in a bikini on a beach by the photographer George Barris. Barris had been commissioned in June 1962 by Cosmopolitan to photograph the screen idol in Los Angeles and Monroe had died tragically of an overdose in August, making the Barris sessions her final photoshoots. This photograph first appeared in 'MM: The Last Pictures', an article in the November edition of the British magazine Town. It was featured on a double-page spread alongside the contact sheets which had been marked up by Monroe herself, with rejected images crossed out, and the approved, published image outlined, ticked and marked 'Good'. This spread provided Hamilton with the source imagery for My Marilyn, which he rescaled and reformatted into a grid-like format. Hamilton described his aims as follows: 'Since the basis of the print was a group of photographs with markings made by Marilyn Monroe's hand, it became an objective of the prints to produce a painterly result without actually making marks with mine' (E. Lullin, Düsseldorf, p. 68).

Hamilton first printed the screenprint in the Fine Art Department at if the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. My Marilyn (a), of which the present impression is a rare example, comprises a series of experimental trial proofs in which `the colours and sequence of screens...were being continually modified, registration was casual, and editioning, where every print is expected to be identical, was not at all on the artist's mind' (E. Lullin, Düsseldorf, p. 68). Etienne Lullin cites an edition of `circa 17 varied impressions', contradicting Hamilton's own editioning on this example, which is numbered out of five. The lack of clarity on the precise details of these proofs printed in Newcastle is reflected in a conversation between the artist and author on 17 April 1999, in which Hamilton recollects 'I couldn't make an edition, but I was changing things all the time, changing the inks and changing the sieves, there isn't a real edition of this print' (E. Lullin, Düsseldorf, p. 68). Later in 1965 Hamilton would publish a final, reworked version, My Marilyn (Lullin 59), in a consistent edition of 75 which was printed by Chris Prater at Editions Alecto, London.

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