Working with Ken Tyler at Gemini G.E.L.
Hockney spends time in L.A., working with Ken Tyler at Gemini G.E.L. on the Weather Series—lithographs that recall various stylizations of [NESTED]atmospheric effects in Japanese art. In recognition of Tyler’s expertise, Hockney draws his portrait for a lithograph, The Master Printer of Los Angeles.
I arrive at Gemini at 8:00 a.m. much to the surprise of the printers who tell me that the artists don’t usually show up until 11:00 .… Ken is such a good printer. It’s terrific getting into complicated lithography again. There’s no one in London who can print like him. Every little thing put on a stone really appears. I’ve almost completed the first four. Rain, Mist, Sun, and Lightning, and hope to do four more—Snow, Frost, Wind, and a Rainbow.
Hockney’s next print project is a commission from the publisher Propyläen Verlag to honor Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973) with a contribution to a commemorative portfolio (already in the works prior to his death on April 8). Hockney works with [NESTED]Aldo Crommelynck, the Paris-based master printer with whom Picasso collaborated, to produce The Student: Homage to Picasso and Artist and Model. In the process he learns the highly difficult “sugar-lift” technique as well as colored etching.
It was thrilling to meet someone who had such direct contact with Picasso and worked with him such a lot. Aldo Crommelynck taught me marvelous technical things about etching.
Henry Geldzahler is once again Hockney’s summer companion: this year the pair rent a villa close to Lucca, hoping to write a book together. Instead, they tour around northern Italy, and Hockney makes drawings of Geldzahler, Mo McDermott, and the many other visiting friends and acquaintances who keep the villa full.
Living in Paris
In the autumn, Hockney leaves England to live in Paris, in the sixth arrondissement. The move does not deter his recent devotion to drawing and printmaking. Among the new friends he draws are Jean Léger, Gregory Evans, and Yves-Marie Hervé. He drafts more portraits of Celia Birtwell—evidence of their particular [NESTED]intimacy since the early part of the year, when Birtwell and her two sons rented a Malibu beach house with Hockney.
I was trying to break out of something … of what I called obsessive naturalism …. Usually when I get into that state I have to do something, so I just sit and draw in some way or other. At that time I felt almost as though I should go back to drawing skeletons, as I did when I was a student at the Royal College of Art, thinking, what shall I do?: I’ll make a study of the skeleton; what should I do?: I’ll makes some drawings of my friends; I’ll make them slowly, accurately, have them sit down and pose for hours.
Paris is very pleasant. For the first time in years I can have eight hours a day painting alone with no disturbances. The telephone only seems to ring two or three times and it’s usually only friends arranging dinner. I’ve started a few French lessons but my progress is slow, and after a hard day painting it’s a little hard to concentrate, but I intend to slog at it.
Celia has a beautiful face, a very rare face with lots of things in it which appeal to me. It shows aspects of her, like her intuitive knowledge and her kindness, which I think is the greatest virtue. To me she’s such a special person.
- The Weather and Other Lithographs, André Emmerich Gallery, New York, NY, USA (May 19–Jun 15).
- La peinture anglaise aujourd’hui, Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France (Feb 7–Mar 11); catalogue.
- Drawings, Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, USA (Mar 13–Apr 15).
- Henry Moore to Gilbert and George: Modern British Art from the Tate Gallery, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium (Sep 28–Nov 17); catalogue.
- Hommage à Picasso, Kestner-Gesselschaft, Hanover.
- David Hockney Print Retrospective, by Barbara Mathes, New York: M. Knoedler & Company.
- A Decade of Printmaking, edited by Charles Spenser, London: Academy Editions in association with Editions Alecto.