Jeff Jackson

Richard Hamilton

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Tate Modern, London, until 26 May

Just what is it that makes Tate Modern's current retrospective exhibition of Richard Hamilton's work so different, so appealing? Of course this is a rather tongue in cheek reworking of the title of Hamilton's now iconic 1956 piece, "Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing?" Hamilton was, I would argue, one of the most interesting, innovative and enjoyable artists working in Britain from the late 1940s until his death in September 2011.

Leon Kuhn (1954-2013)

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A life long revolutionary socialist Leon devoted his outstanding artistic skills to furthering the cause of the working class and oppressed people around the world. He he not only drew on the revolutionary photomontage of artists like of George Grozs, Hannah Hoch and John Heartfield, but he also advanced it as printing and copying techniques evolved.

Ruth First and Joe Slovo in the War Against Apartheid

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Alan Wieder, Monthly Review Press, £14.79

The fight against the inhuman brutality of the apartheid South African regime became one of the defining struggles of the second half of the 20th century. When Nelson Mandela walked free in February 1990, after 27 years in prison, it marked the end game for a government that was by then reviled as a pariah state by almost everyone save the most rabid right wing conservative racists.

Art and revolution in Mexico

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"I had never seen such a land, and didn't think there were such lands." Vladimir Mayakovsky

The Mexican Revolution that began in 1910 when Emiliano Zapata launched his land reform known as the Ayala Plan, was one of the great social upheavals of the 20th century.

The corrupt and brutal dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz, shaken by a strike wave in the preceding years, was destroyed by the mass peasant armies of Zapata and Pancho Villa. The remnants of the old regime were finally defeated in 1913.

Spartacus

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Aldo Schiavone

In 73BC a small group of Gladiator slaves revolted and escaped from a gladiator training prison in the Roman city of Capua, within the space of just over two years the rebellion was joined by up to 70,000 slaves.

This cauldron of revolt defeated an army led by Roman counsels and at one point threatened Rome itself. Ultimately however the slave army moved to the south of Italy, hoping to sail to Sicily, parts of which had been defiant of Roman domination for a number of years.

Schwitters in Britain

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At Tate Britain, until 12 May 2013

In 1930 Kurt Schwitters, one of the greatest revolutionary and innovative artists of the 20th century, observed that "everything was broken down into shards and needed to be put back together again". This was to prove something of an understatement.

Born in 1887, and having lived through the carnage of the First World War, the "lost" German Revolution and the traumas of the Weimar state, Schwitters lived to witness the barbarity of fascism. He endured exile, internment, poverty and the horrors of "total war" before dying in virtual obscurity in 1948.

Cecil Beaton: Theatre of War

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Imperial War Museum, London, until 1 January

If you know something of Cecil Beaton's politics you could be forgiven for thinking that this exhibition may be one to miss. Beaton, like so many of the English aristocracy that he longed to be part of, was an anti-Semite a fawning monarchist and a snob of the worst sort.

However, if you can afford the eight quid to get in, missing this exhibition would be an error for a number of reasons.

Magnetised Space

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Serpentine Gallery

Lygia Pape's (1927–2004) work developed in the vortex of change and confrontation that Brazil has witnessed since 1945. The country has seen economic expansion on a massive scale; millions of people have been sucked into rapidly expanding urban centres. Immense wells of poverty and destitution exist next to the obscene caprice and rapacious greed of the ruling elites.

The building of dreams and nightmares

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"Once more he looked intently at this new city, not wanting to forget it or to be mistaken, but the buildings stood clear as before, as if around them lay not the murk of Russian air but a cool transparency" - Anton Platonov, The Foundation Pit

Walter Benjamin notes that "what characterises revolutionary classes at their moment of action is the awareness that they are about to make the continuum of history explode". Never has this been so acutely illustrated than in the early years of the Russian Revolution that began in 1917.

For the first time a country's working class had defeated its ruling class, and created their own fledgling soviet democracy. A new world was being born, what Arthur Ransome would describe as "the living, vivifying expression of something hitherto hidden in the consciousness of humanity".

Richard Hamilton, 1922-2011

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Richard Hamilton, who died last month, was one of the most important British artists of the 20th century. His work could be deeply subversive, was of great influence and was instrumental in changing both how we view and make art. He helped to revolutionise and democratise art in this country.

His work essentially covers the period of the post Second World War boom to the living nightmare of today's neoliberal global economy.

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