At the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Maurice Tuchman and Stephanie Barron organize David Hockney: A Retrospective, Hockney’s first comprehensive retrospective in eighteen years, with 250 works—paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, publications, and theater design models. It opens in February; by the end of its run, it is the most well-attended contemporary art exhibition in LACMA’s history. When the show travels to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, John Russell writes in the New York Times that Hockney “emerges as a very gifted though not always docile student, a painter and printmaker who has done enviably well not only for himself but for those who have handled his work, and a man of restless and almost universal curiosity who has never been content to do the same thing over and over again.”
The exhibition travels to the Tate Gallery in London next, but is nearly cancelled when Hockney considers removing works in protest of proposed anti-homosexual legislation by Margaret Thatcher’s government. That [NESTED]outcome is averted, and Hockney expands the parameters of the retrospective’s timeline to include very recent paintings in a final gallery. In Burlington Magazine Julian Spalding describes that gallery as “a visually encompassing dance ... aiming at a new vividness of portrayal that is both startling and sweet.”
A new house in Malibu provides a new studio, where Hockney paints the sea as well as portraits of friends and family, which he photocopies on his Canon color copier upon completion, providing prints to the sitters.
The beach house was owned by an old lady who had lived here for decades—an amateur painter actually. She’d built a small studio on the hill at the back of the house with an electric lift to get her into it. I enjoy using that lift too and so do the dogs!... When you live this close to the sea, when it literally comes up and splashes the windows, it is not the horizon line which dominates, but the close movement of the water itself. It’s like fire and smoke, endlessly changing, endlessly fascinating.
The colors from the Canon machine were intense and very, very close to the originals. But what was it, this copy? A photograph but not a photograph? A copy without a conventional camera .... However, unlike a color photograph, where the colors seem to exist below the surface of the print itself, here was color which sat on top of the paper, giving it an incredible luminosity.
Van Gogh chairs
He also makes “portraits” of chairs, prompted by an invitation from the Fondation Vincent van Gogh to participate in the centenary celebration of van Gogh’s arrival in Arles. Inspired by van Gogh’s painted chairs, Hockney creates several images, including a few that he paints using reverse-perspective.
Hockney’s printmaking via office technologies moves next to what he calls “a telephone for the deaf”—the fax machine. To his delight, telephonic transmission offers speed of distribution. Hockney faxes images around the world, dubbing the venture The Hollywood Sea Picture Supply Co., testing out new ways to manipulate and distort images, and increasingly creating multi-sheet compositions that require the receiver to piece the work together.
Many of them were made from paintings of the sea, stretched on one machine, reduced another way, crammed in, pasted up, made into a collage and then into a fax. I began sending them out to various people who immediately responded by asking me how I got such clear pictures from a fax machine .... There’s no such thing as a bad printing machine. To make half-tones, for instance, you don’t use washes for something to look like a wash, you use opaque gray; the machine read the opaque gray and made the dots itself .... I played with the faxes for about six months. Next to the fax machine I had a new black-and-white laser copier with which I now began to do all kinds of things, not just reduce: I could use it to bend images, play with variations or put one image inside another.
As people became aware of what I was doing, they would call and ask me to send the latest fax. First I would send a detailed plan of how the pages should be pasted together, followed by the work itself. My phone bills became enormous! Then I realized that people have different kinds of fax machines at the other end—old ones and new ones. The old ones were incredibly slow sometimes. Once I send one to an old machine, they rarely get another!
- A Retrospective, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Feb 4–Apr 24); travels to Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Jun 18–Aug 14) and Tate Gallery, London (Oct 26, 1988–Jan 3, 1989); catalogue edited by Maurice Tuchman and Stephanie Barron, with texts by Henry Geldzahler, Anne Hoy, R. B. Kitaj, Christopher Knight, Gert Schiff, Kenneth E. Silver, and Lawrence Weschler.
- David Hockney Photocollages, Santa Monica College Photography Gallery, Santa Monica, CA (Feb 19–Mar 25).
- Portrait Drawings, a 20 Year Survey, André Emmerich Gallery, New York (Jun 2–Jul 29).
- Selected Prints, Douglas Drake Gallery, New York (Jun 9–Jul 23).
- Prints, Pace Prints, New York (Jun 23–Aug 1).
- Weather Series, Pence Gallery, Santa Monica (Sep 10–Oct 15).
- David Hockney, Seibu, Tokyo (Oct 13–25).
- A Private View, Edition Graphiques Gallery, London (Oct 26–Nov 12); catalogue.
- Etchings and Lithographs, 1961–1986, Waddington Graphics, London (Oct 26–Nov 19); catalogue.
- Some New Paintings, Knoedler Gallery, London (opens Oct 27); catalogue.
- Etchings/Aquatints, Fieldborne Galleries, London (Nov 1–Dec 16).
- David Hockney: Home Made Prints, Galerie Kaj Forsblom, Helsinki, Finland (Nov 10–27).
- Photocollagen, Cameraworks, Dany Keller Galerie, Munich (Nov 29, 1988–Jan 21, 1989).
- David Hockney’s Images of His Model Celia, 1973–1986, Carl Schlosberg Fine Arts, Los Angeles (opens Dec 4).
- The British Picture, L.A. Louver, Venice, CA (Feb 5–Mar 5).
- British Drawings 1961–1975, Singapore Festival of Arts, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore (Jun 16–Jul 3).
- Art Against Aids, Murray Feldman Gallery, Pacific Design Center, Los Angeles (Dec 15, 1988–Feb 5, 1989).
- Hockney on Photography: Conversations with Paul Joyce, London: Jonathan Cape.
- Peter Webb, A Portrait of David Hockney, London: Chatto and Windus; New York: E. P. Dutton.
- A Day on the Grand Canal with the Emperor of China (or Surface Is Illusion but So Is Depth), 46 min., directed by Philip Haas, written by and starring David Hockney.