British artist David Hockney burst onto the scene in the 1960s — one of a group of young artists creating a British response to the American Pop Art movement — and has barely left the spotlight ever since. Known best as a painter, in particular for vibrant California-inspired acrylics such as the 1967 work A Bigger Splash, Hockney is lauded for other aspects of his practice, too; this spring, the London exhibit Hockney, Printmaker, celebrates his work.
The show at Dulwich Picture Gallery, a historic art museum in South East London, marks the 60th anniversary of Hockney’s first print. It brings together more than 100 works made between 1954 and 2009, including etchings, lithographs and more recent pieces drawn on an iPad and iPhone.
The exhibit provides an overview of Hockney’s career, from his student days at the Bradford School of Arts & Media, in his native Yorkshire, and prestigious Royal College of Art (RCA) in London, to stints in California, Paris and London. The artist now splits his time between London and Yorkshire, where he has a home and huge industrial studio set-up in the seaside town of Bridlington. It was here that he created some of the most recent works in the show, including the 2009 computer drawing, Rain on the Studio Window.
With prints grouped according to theme and technique, the show will offer those familiar with Hockney’s paintings an insight into the topics embraced by the artist throughout the years. Two Boys Aged 23 or 24 from Illustrations For Fourteen Poems from C.P. Cavafy, for example, shows Hockney’s continued interest in representing homosexual love in his art, while Lithographic Water Made Of Lines And Crayon (Pool II-B) offers another angle on the shimmering swimming pool paintings of his Los Angeles years.
Portraiture has been another important element of Hockney’s work from very early on, the same close friends appearing again and again. Among the portrait prints featured in Hockney, Printmaker is a moody depiction of the designer Celia Birtwell, who appeared in the artist’s well-known 1971 painting Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy.
The show also includes early treasures such as A Rake’s Progress, a complete series of 16 etchings from Hockney’s time at the RCA, and a self-portrait from 1954. A lecture on Hockney’s early years (March 9) and a series of printing courses allows visitors to gain even greater insights into the work of this British master artist, too. Runs through May 11th.
Photos Courtesy of David Hockney-Gemini GEL