In 1978, Richard Hamilton mounted The artist's eye at the National Gallery, London, the second in the museum's series of artist-designed exhibitions. The result was a strange space in which Bosch and Velázquez commingled with an Eames recliner, an ironing board, and a working television. Five years later, Hamilton constructed Treatment Room (1983–84), in which painting's skillful gestures found themselves interrogated by Orwellian machineries of destruction and paranoia. This essay argues that Hamilton's remobilization of traditions of painterly imagination and skill held a critical spatial function: to equip spectators with cognitive tools for thinking through and imagining routes out of the traumatic “rooms” of a postmodern decade.

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