Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing?  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing? is a collage by English artist Richard Hamilton. The work is now in the collection of the Kunsthalle Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany. It was the first work of pop art to achieve iconic status.


Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing? was created in 1956 for the catalogue of the exhibition This Is Tomorrow in London, England in which it was reproduced in black and white. In addition, the piece was used in posters for the exhibit. Hamilton and his friends John McHale and John Voelcker had collaborated to create the room that became the best-known part of the exhibition.

Hamilton subsequently created several works in which he reworked the subject and composition of the pop art collage, including a 1992 version featuring a female bodybuilder.

Many artists have created derivative works of Hamilton's collage. P. C. Helm made a year-2000 interpretation.


The collage consists of images taken mainly from American magazines. The principal template was an image of a modern sitting-room in an advertisement in Ladies Home Journal for Armstrong Floors, which describes the "modern fashion in floors". The title is also taken from copy in the advert, which states "Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing? Open planning of course - and a bold use of color." The body builder is Irwin 'Zabo' Koszewski, winner of Mr L.A. in 1954. The photograph is taken from Tomorrow's Man magazine, September 1954. The artist Jo Baer, who posed for erotic magazines in her youth, has stated that she is the burlesque woman on the sofa, but this cannot be confirmed because the magazine from which the picture is taken has not been identified. The staircase is taken from an advertisement for Hoover's new model "Constellation". The copy of Young Romance is an advertisement included in Young Love (no 15, 1950). The TV is a Stromberg-Carlson, taken from a 1955 advert. Hamilton asserted that the rug was a blow-up from a photograph depicting a crowd on the Whitley Bay beach, but this cannot be confirmed. The image of planet Earth at the top was cut from Life Magazine (Sept 1955). The original reference image for the collage from Life Magazine supplied to Hamilton is in the John McHale archives at Yale University. The Victorian man in the portrait has not been identified; nor has the image of the periodical on the chair been identified. The tape recorder is of known make, but the source of the image has not been identified. The view through the window is a widely reproduced photograph of the exterior of a cinema in 1927 showing the premiere of the early "talkie" film, The Jazz Singer starring Al Jolson.

See also

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