To raise money on behalf of the AIDS Crisis Trust in collaboration with Sir Stephen Spender, Hockney draws up an alphabet, which he faxes to writers with a request that they reply in turn. This collaborative project—which draws contributions from, among others, Anthony Burgess, T. S. Eliot, William Golding, [NESTED]Seamus Heaney, Erica Jong, Doris Lessing, Norman Mailer, Arthur Miller, Iris Murdoch, Joyce Carol Oates, Susan Sontag, John Updike, and Gore Vidal—is published in book form in 1991 as Hockney’s Alphabet.
XX Bienal de São Paulo
Hockney participates in the São Paulo Biennial via fax. He takes this recourse after collectors prove reluctant to lend paintings so soon after his international retrospective. The concept of the absent artist who plans a work to fit the dimensions of a site-specific wall proves perhaps too innovative when Brazil’s telephone lines can’t receive Hockney’s faxes. [NESTED]Persisting with the project, he sets up a provisional work space in a Los Angeles hotel, sending faxes from one room to the next, where an assistant packs the sheets in a suitcase for hand delivery to Brazil, where Henry Geldzahler oversees their mounting.
The fax show in Brazil caused quite a stir. But many people saw the philosophical side, the interesting side, the use of printing to make original artworks. I assume that even though people think my work is very popular, it often takes them time to see what I am really doing, to see what it is I am exploring, that it is not just a wild thing, but something that grows out of something else, and will grow into something else again.
Late in the year, another epic fax project is performed, this time over an evening organized by Jonathan Silver at Salts Mill in Saltaire, Yorkshire. Tennis is made up of 144 sheets sent by Hockney from L.A. to four fax machines in the gallery space, to be spray-glued as a grid on the wall according to previously sent instructions. Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” provides a soundtrack.
Plants and portraits
Hockney is deeply engaged in his favored medium of painting, primarily working in his Malibu home and studio. He paints portraits and makes Pretty Plant Paintings, each still-life a gift to a friend with AIDS.
I felt I wanted to look at my friends’ faces again, and I painted them rather quickly and crudely, but, as the paintings accumulated, they seemed quite interesting. Most of the people I painted didn’t like them—I don’t think I’m that much of a flatterer. Nevertheless, it was useful for me to look at people again—they were all people I knew. If the best ones are of my mother, it is perhaps because I know her best.
- Photographs of China, Nishmura Gallery, Tokyo, Japan (Jan 23–Feb 10); catalogue.
- New Paintings, André Emmerich Gallery, New York, NY, USA (Mar 30–Apr 22); catalogue.
- Flower, Chair, Interior, Nishimura Gallery, Tokyo, Japan (Oct 23–Nov 25); catalogue.
- Some New Pictures, L.A. Louver, Venice, CA, USA (Dec 6, 1989–Jan 6, 1990), travels to The Contemporary Art Museum, Honolulu; catalogue.
- Twentieth Century Works, Waddington Galleries, London, UK (Apr 26–May 20).
- Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK (Jun 10–Aug 20).
- David Hockney, Modern Museum of Art, Santa Ana, CA.
- Hockney: 25 years of Printmaking, CCA Galleries, Berkeley Square Gallery, London: CCA Galleries and Berkeley Square Gallery.
- David Hockney Paintings: Flower, Chair, Interior, by David Hockney, Tokyo.
- David Hockney: Neue Bilder, Recent Paintings, by David Hockney, Frankfurt am Main.
- David Hockney: New Paintings, by David Hockney, New York.
- David Hockney: Some New Pictures, by David Hockney, Venice, CA.
- Photographs of China, by David Hockney, Tokyo: Nishimura Gallery.
- David Hockney: Redefining the Terms of Art and Life, by David Hockney, Tokyo: Art Life Ltd..
- Praemium Imperiale for Painting, Japan Art Association, Tokyo.