Hockney is back in London for the early months of the year, but his mind is on the swimming pools of Los Angeles as he completes several paintings from preparatory studies. He returns to the States to teach for the summer at the University of Colorado Boulder, where he works in a confined studio, painting the nearby Rocky [NESTED]Mountains from various reproductions he finds. He is continuing to work in an ever-diversifying vocabulary of styles, mixing academic training, poetic wit, and youthful irreverence, for example, combining figurative painting and awkwardly placed abstract objects in Portrait Surrounded by Artistic Devices.
I go in the studio—no window! All I need is a couple of little windows. So I painted Rocky Mountains and Tired Indians. The whole picture is an invention from geological magazines and romantic ideas—the nearest Indians are at least 300 miles from Boulder. The chair was just put in for compositional purposes, and to explain its being there I called the Indians "tired."
Portrait Surrounded by Artistic Devices
The idea of Portrait Surrounded by Artistic Devices grew from the curtain motif of previous pictures. The reasoning went something like this: curtains are associated with theatricality; visually the theater is an arrangement on a stage of figures and objects; the traditional still-life painting in art schools (based on Cézanne) is usually an arrangement of apples and vases or wine bottles on a table cloth, perhaps a curtain in repose. Remembering that Cézanne had said everything can be reduced to a cone, I conceived the idea of inventing some still-lifes …. I must admit that the dubious acrobatics of the reasoning were of great appeal at the time.
Ken Tyler and Gemini G.E.L
Back in L.A. in the autumn (after driving from Boulder through the old Colorado gold mines, San Francisco, and Disneyland), Hockney works at the Gemini G.E.L workshop on A Hollywood Collection, his first project with printmaker Ken Tyler. The series of six lithographs in color conjures up the art collection of a Hollywood star, with each image depicting a fictional artwork in its frame.
Pictures with frames
Indeed, Hockney’s works are often picturing their own frames now - presenting themselves as self-conscious art. In December, the Times notes in its review of his show Pictures with Frames and Still-Life Pictures at John Kasmin’s gallery: “Mr. Hockney has taken one of the few fruitful courses for a figurative painter at a time when virtually all the devices of figurative painting have been found worn out and stale. [NESTED]He uses as his weapons exactly these illusionistic devices, relying on an extremely subtle formal sense to bring them into unexpected relationships, and thus create fresh images. His latest paintings revolve round the idea of the ‘frame,’ and by including the representation of a frame within the painting itself he gives the work another layer of meaning which causes us to ask exactly where reality lies.”
Hockney ends the year by driving cross-country to New York before returning to London by boat. He is accompanied by Patrick Procktor and Bobby Earles, and makes life studies of Earles over the course of the journey, for example Bob Aboard the "France".
- Pictures with Frames and Still-Life Pictures, Kasmin Limited, London (opens Dec 3).
- Pop Art, Nouveau Réalisme, etc., Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (Feb 5–Mar 1); catalogue.
- London: The New Scene, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (Feb 6–Mar 14); travels to Washington, D.C., Boston, Seattle, Vancouver, and Toronto; catalogue.
- Industry and the Artist, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (Feb 28–Mar 28).
- Trends in Contemporary British Painting, Bear Lane Gallery, Oxford (Jun–Jul); catalogue.
- Sixth International Exhibition of Graphic Art, Moderna galerija, Ljubljana (Jun); catalogue; Hockney wins a Purchase Prize.
- 118 Show, Kasmin Limited, London (Aug 12–Sep 18).
- Impressions on Paper, Arnolfini, Bristol (Oct–Nov).