Halaconia in Green Vase

It’s terrific when I really get painting: squeezing the paint out and using it so it doesn’t even have time to get a skin on it; working in the evenings where I’ll set something up; and then continuing on it first thing in the morning. And as soon as I get going, I develop. I’m never short of what to do. Just give me enough time and I’ll work it out.

Red and Pink Ginger with Books and Oranges, 1996

Painting portraits and still-lifes

As the year begins Hockney continues to make portraits of his loved ones in the U.K. He takes a trip to the Hague, where he is struck anew by the paintings of Johannes Vermeer (Dutch, 1632–1675) in the Mauritshuis—their application of color and rendering of light. He returns to painting in the studio energized to carry Vermeer’s example into his own still-lifes. 

Red, Purple and Green Vegetables
Cactus with Lemons
30 Sunflowers
Violets on Yellow
Birthday Bouquet
Blue Hydrangeas
Bromeliad in Chinese Pot with Ashtray
Sunflower in Bottle with Ashtray and Oranges
Sunflowers and 3 Oranges
Two Sunflowers in Green Glass Vase
Gladioli with Two Oranges
Three Sunflowers and a Bottle of Water
Pink Caladium
Iris with Evian Bottle
Sunflowers in a Yellow Vase
Two Vases of Flowers
Two Vases of Flowers with Table and Books
Yellow Lilies
Two Sunflowers Laying on a Table
Bowl of Roses on a Table
Halaconia in Green Vase
White Lilies and Orchid

What so impressed me about Vermeer was the condition and the vibrancy of the color. Every other picture in that museum looked dull in comparison. How can these paintings glow like this! He put the paint on so carefully, in transparent layers so you see those vibrant blues. Stunning .... I’ve learned a lot about transparent glazes in oil painting over the years; I’ve made it my business to. Seeing how Vermeer handled the paint, and beyond that how he controlled the light on to his subjects, sent me back into the studio with tremendous energy. In fact, I decided the best place to paint the flower studies was the far end of the studio, at the top of the stairs, just outside the loo. It might seem to be peculiar, but that was where the north light came down in just the correct way, at a certain time of day.

Margaret Hockney
Laura Hockney

Self portraits

Hockney’s portraits are shadowed by recent personal difficulties: his mother’s declining health, recent deaths, including that of his old friend Ossie Clark, and increased loneliness with the loss of his hearing. He exposes his pain in self portraits.

Self Portrait, December 22, 1996 from "Portrait Wall"
Self Portrait, December 29, 1996

Those portraits were painful to me. When I looked at myself, I just saw pain in my face. Some people said, "It didn’t even look like you." And I thought, "Oh, you’ve no idea what I look like when I’m on my own looking in a mirror. You’ve no idea what I see."

You Make the Picture

The retrospective You Make the Picture, at the Manchester City Art Gallery, brings fresh assessments of Hockney’s development as an artist across mediums. In The Times, John Russell Taylor writes: “Everything in this show demonstrates the rigorous logic and consistency in what he does. It starts with the photocollages because it was through them that he came to question the whole Western convention of perspective and pictorial space .... Hockney is as much a conceptual artist as any who claim loudly to be so. It is just that he sees before he thinks, and what he thinks is always at the service of what he sees.”



  • Paintings and Photographs of Paintings, Kunsthaus Wien, Vienna, Austria (Feb 8–Apr 14).
  • A Drawing Retrospective, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA, USA (Feb 15–Apr 28); catalogue.
  • Selected Drawings, L.A. Louver, Venice, CA, USA (Feb 16–Mar 16).
  • David Hockney, Nishimura Gallery, Tokyo, Japan (Mar 5–23).
  • Painting as Performance, André Emmerich Gallery, New York, NY, USA (May 7–Jun 15).
  • Paintings and Photographs of Paintings, Robert Miller Gallery, New York, NY, USA (May 7–Jun 15).
  • David Hockney, L.A. Louver, Venice, CA, USA (May 11–Jun 8).
  • A Print Retrospective 1954–1995, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan (Oct 9–Dec 15); catalogue.


  • British Drawings, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, Portugal (Mar 7–May 19).
  • Thinking Print: Books to Billboards, 1980–1995, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA (Jun 19–Sep 10); catalogue.
  • Picasso – Ein Zeitgenossischer Dialog, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Salzburg, Austria (Jul 20–Aug 30); catalogue.
  • Pablo Picasso and David Hockney, Rex Irwin Gallery, Woollahra, Australia (Jul 30–Aug 31).
  • A Marriage of Styles: British Art in the Fifties and Sixties, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia (Dec 13, 1996–Jan 27, 1997).



  • The Prints of David Hockney, Center for Contemporary Graphic Art, Fukushima, Japan: Tyler Graphics Ltd..
  • 20 Photographs, by David Hockney, Los Angeles.
  • David Hockney Prints 1954-1995, by David Hockney, Tokyo.
  • You Make the Picture: Paintings and Prints 1982–1995, by David Hockney, Manchester, U.K.: Manchester City Art Galleries.
  • David Hockney: New Enlarged Edition, by Marco Livingstone, London: Thames & Hudson.
  • A Drawing Retrospective, by Ulrich Luckhardt & Paul Melia, San Francisco: Chronicle Books.



  • David Hockney: Pleasures of the Eye, 55 min., directed by Gero von Boehm.
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