The Metropolitan Opera
At long last, after delays due to a worker’s strike, the triple bill of Parade, Les mamelles de Tirésias, and L’enfant et les sortileges opens in New York at the Metropolitan Opera. All aspects of the production are applauded in the press; in the New York Times, Donal Henehan writes that Hockney’s “dazzling poster-art and witty costumes provided not only color, but also dramatic continuity to the whole night.” The Met commissions Hockney and director John Dexter [NESTED]to work together again, on a staging of Igor Stravinsky’s Le sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring), Le rossignol (The Nightingale), and Oedipus Rex that debuts at the end of the year.
Le sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring)
Le rossignol (The Nightingale)
In May, touring China at the prompting of the editor Nikos Stangos at Thames & Hudson, Hockney takes photographs and makes watercolors—two mediums that accommodate a swift pace of travel. Alongside descriptions by the English writer and poet Stephen Spender, his travel companion along with Gregory Evans, Hockney’s images are published in [NESTED]the book China Diary (1982). From observing Chinese artists at work, his appreciation for loose, fast brushwork grows, as does his openness to relying on memory to represent an experience.
There was hardly a time when you had half an hour to sit around; so I realized I had to devise a method of drawing quickly or from memory. I started drawing from memory more and more.
The Artist's Eye
In the summer, Hockney organizes an exhibition for the series The Artist’s Eye at the National Gallery in London. As his contribution, he re-conceives his 1977 painting Looking at Pictures on a Screen, which shows the curator Henry Geldzahler looking [NESTED]at reproductions of artworks by Vermeer, Piero della Francesca, Van Gogh, and Degas; this time, the original artworks and original reproductions are installed in the gallery. The scenario invites viewers to consider what differences exist between versions, and to embrace the ease of distribution that mechanical reproduction enables.
You can take the cheap photographic copy home. You can pin it up next to your bed. You can have a look at it at night. You can wake up and have a look at it in the morning. And it’s giving off pleasure in strange ways that go on and on.
Now I think the best use for photography, the best use for it, is photographing other pictures. It is the only time it can be true to its medium, in the sense that it’s real. This is the only way you can take a photograph that could be described as having a strong illusion of reality. Because on the flat surface of the photograph is simply reproduced another flat surface—painting.
Lithographs at Gemini G.E.L.
Back in Los Angeles in the fall, Hockney works with the publisher Gemini G.E.L. and releases a print portfolio mostly of images of Celia Birtwell.
Hollywood Hills House
At home in Bradford for Christmas, he paints, across three canvases, Hollywood Hills House, based on his recollection of how it feels to move through his L.A. home—past opera models, a picture of Laurel and Hardy painted by his father, and a postcard of a Renaissance painting.
- Paintings and Drawings for "Parade", André Emmerich Gallery, New York, NY, USA (Mar 26–Apr 18), travels to Riverside Studios, London (May 5–Jun 7); Galerie Claude Bernard, Paris (Jun 17–Aug 1); catalogue.
- Stage Designs for “The Rake’s Progress” and “The Magic Flute”, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK (May 18–Jun 28).
- David Hockney, Galerie Claude Bernard, Paris, France (Jun 17–Aug 1).
- The Artist’s Eye: David Hockney. Looking at Pictures on a Screen, National Gallery, London, UK (Jul 1–Aug 31); catalogue.
- A New Spirit in Painting, Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK (Jan 15–Mar 18); catalogue.
- Art in Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA, USA (Nov 20, 1981–Jan 31, 1982); catalogue.
- Instant Fotografie, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (Dec 4, 1981–Jan 17, 1982); catalogue.
- A New Spirit in Painting, Royal Academy of Arts, London.
- The artist's eye: Looking at Pictures in a Book, by David Hockney, London: National Gallery Publications.
- David Hockney, by Marco Livingstone, New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.