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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
- David Hockney: Grimm's Fairy Tales, California State University Art Museum, Long Beach, CA (Jan 30–Mar 10).
- Paintings and Photographs of Paintings, Kunsthaus Wien (Feb 8–Apr 14).
- Selected Drawings, L.A. Louver, Venice, CA (Feb 16–Mar 16).
- David Hockney, Nishimura Gallery, Tokyo (Mar 5–23).
- The Prints of David Hockney, Center for Contemporary Graphic Art, Tokyo (Apr 20–Jun 2).
- Painting as Performance, André Emmerich Gallery, New York (May 7–Jun 15).
- Paintings and Photographs of Paintings, Robert Miller Gallery, New York (May 7–Jun 15).
- David Hockney, L.A. Louver, Venice, CA (May 11–Jun 8).
- A Print Retrospective 1954–1995, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (Oct 9–Dec 15); catalogue with texts by Takeshi Sakurai and Hideyuki Kido.
- David Hockney, Alan Cristea Gallery, London (Oct 23–Dec 1).
- Important Works, Galerie Berndt, Cologne (Nov 8, 1996–Feb 1997).
- You Make the Picture: Paintings and Prints 1982–1995, Manchester City Art Galleries (Nov 15, 1996–Feb 2, 1997); catalogue with a text by Paul Melia.
- British Drawings, José de Azeredo Perdigão Modern Art Center/Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon (Mar 7–May 19).
- Thinking Print: Books to Billboards, 1980–1995, Museum of Modern Art, New York (Jun 19–Sep 10); catalogue.
- Picasso–Ein Zeitgenossischer Dialog, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Salzburg (Jul 20–Aug 30); catalogue.
- Pablo Picasso and David Hockney, Rex Irwin Gallery, Woollahra, Australia (Jul 30–Aug 31).
- Les Sixties, années utopies, Musée d’histoire contemporaine, Paris (Oct 25–Dec 29); travels to Brighton Museum (Apr–Jun 1997); catalogue.
- A Marriage of Styles: British Art in the Fifties and Sixties, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (Dec 13, 1996–Jan 27, 1997).
- David Hockney: 20 Photographs, Los Angeles: David Hockney Studio.
- Marco Livingstone, David Hockney: New Enlarged Edition, London: Thames & Hudson.
- David Hockney: Pleasures of the Eye, 55 min., directed by Gero von Boehm.