A Closer Grand Canyon

Painting distant landscapes

From memory, Hockney continues to paint Yorkshire upon his return to Los Angeles. He is also working to convey—at epic scale—the spectacular landscape of the Grand Canyon, to which he has been pilgrimaging since the early 80s.

Garrowby Hill, 1998
Double East Yorkshire, 1998

It was January, not the best time to see the Grand Canyon ... so I decided not to go. I didn’t want to be influenced by atmospherics. I wanted to paint it how I remembered it, with real color and pigments, strong pure color put right.

Hockney at the Grand Canyon, Photo by Richard Schmidt
A Bigger Grand Canyon, 1998

For this vastly ambitious work of 60 canvases assembled in a grid, A Bigger Grand Canyon, he draws inspiration from the nineteenth-century landscape paintings of Thomas Moran (American, 1837–1926) while relying on his recollection of the space in combination with the documentation of his photographic collage The Grand Canyon Looking North II, September 1982. At the National Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C., A Bigger Grand Canyon has its public debut. 

The Grand Canyon Looking North II, September 1982, Collage No. 2, Made May 1986, 1986

A Closer Grand Canyon

In the autumn, Hockney again takes up the motif of the Grand Canyon, but changes tack: he travels to the Grand Canyon to draw it from observation. He works daily for a week at Powell Point on the South Rim to draw numerous studies in oil pastel. Back in his studio, he paints A Closer Grand Canyon on 60 canvases.

A Closer Grand Canyon, 1998

The second—which I called A Closer Grand Canyon because you feel closer to it—was done from drawings after sitting there for a week. I took the chair right to the edge to make sure I could sit comfortably for quite a while. I’d be out very early when the sun had just risen. I’d just sit there. Sometimes I even thought that the whole thing could be flat. I’ve had weird thoughts there. It’s unphotographable. No photograph does it justice.

Double Study for 'A Closer Grand Canyon'

I’d just think about this space .... It is about the only place on earth that really makes you look in every direction. You feel small. And the longer you look the more thrilling it becomes.

The Grand Canyon, 1998
9 Canvas Study of the Grand Canyon
15 Canvas Study of the Grand Canyon
Colorado River
Double Study for 'A Closer Grand Canyon'

Writing about painting

Writing in the Spring 1998 New York issue of Modern Painters, Hockney calls for an embrace of painting, elaborating on how the advent of television and the internet [NESTED]has worsened his skepticism regarding the reliability of photography as witness. 

Both the photograph and reality itself are being called into question. We are losing confidence in the camera’s ability to show us what the world looks, and feels, like. All images are artificial in some way ... but what the hand, the eye, and the heart can do—and paint—can never be replaced.

Both the photograph and reality itself are being called into question. We are losing confidence in the camera’s ability to show us what the world looks, and feels, like. All images are artificial in some way ... but what the hand, the eye, and the heart can do—and paint—can never be replaced.


Maurice 1998, 1998

At his Hollywood Hills home, Hockney is delving back into etchings. He resumes collaborating with his old friend Maurice Payne, and they set up a print studio in the house. Payne leaves prepared plates around for Hockney to take up drawing the characters and objects of his domestic life as he likes throughout the day. 

Van Gogh Chair (Black)
Peonies in a Glass Vase
Van Gogh Chair (White)
Black Wire Plant
Homemade Etching
Wooden Stool with Book
Chair with Book on Red Carpet
Cacti on Terrace
Red Wire Plant
Steel Stool with Newspaper
Soft Celia
Maurice 1998
Brenda with Cigarette

Dog Days

Hockney’s paintings and drawings of his dachshunds made over several years are published in book form: David Hockney’s Dog Days.

Dog Etching No. 1
Dog Etching No. 2
Dog Etching No. 3
Dog Etching No. 4
Dog Etching No. 5
Dog Etching No. 6
Dog Etching No. 7
Dog Etching No. 8
Dog Etching No. 9
Dog Etching No. 10
Dog Etching No. 11
Dog Etching No. 12
Dog Etching No. 13
Dog Etching No. 14
Dog Etching No. 15



  • David Hockney, Galerie Meyer-Ellinger, Frankfurt am Main (Apr 2–May 30).
  • New Paintings by David Hockney, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Apr 24–Aug 23); brochure with a text by Barbara Stern Shapiro.
  • A Bigger Grand Canyon, National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C. (Jun 19–Sep 7).
  • David Hockney, Galway Arts Festival, Galway, Ireland (Jul 13–26).
  • Looking at Landscape, Being in Landscape, L.A. Louver, Venice, CA (Sep 15–Oct 24); catalogue with an interview by Lawrence Weschler.
  • Prints 1954–1995, Peter Gwyther Gallery, London (Oct–Dec).


  • Head First: Portraits from the Arts Council Collection, City Gallery, Leicester (Jan 17–Feb 28); touring exhibition organized by Hayward Gallery for the Arts Council of England, travels to City Art Gallery, Southampton (Apr 9–May 31); Abbot Hall Gallery, Kendal, U.K. (Jun 10–Sep 13); Hatton Gallery, Newcastle, U.K. (Sep 26–Nov 8); Bath; Sheffield; and Hull (through 1999); catalogue.
  • Masterpieces of British Art from the Tate Gallery, Metropolitan Museum, Tokyo (Jan 23–Mar 29); travels to Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Modern Art, Kobe (Apr 15–Jun 28).
  • Selections from the Anderson Collection: Contemporary Portraits, California Palace of the Legion on Honor, San Francisco (Jan–Apr).
  • The Power of the Poster, Victoria and Albert Museum, London (Apr 2–Jul 26); catalogue.
  • Digital Frontiers: Photography’s Future at Nash Editions, George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester, New York (Apr 25–Sep 26); travels to Monterey Museum of Art, La Mirada, CA (Jul 10–Sep 26, 1999).
  • Modern British Art, Tate Liverpool (May 23, 1998–Apr 1, 1999).
  • In over Our Heads: The Image of Water in Contemporary Art, San Jose Museum of Art (Jun 13–Sep 20).
  • Photoimage: Printmaking 60s to 90s, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Jul 7–Sep 27); travels to Des Moines Art Center (Mar 5–May 9); catalogue.
  • Eye to Eye: Contemporary Portraits from the Anderson Graphic Arts Collection, Museum of Art and History, Santa Cruz, CA (Jul–Sep).
  • Innenleben: Die Kunst des Interieurs, Städtische Galerie im Stadelschen Kunstinistut, Frankfurt am Main (Sep 25, 1998–Jan 10, 1999); catalogue.



  • David Hockney’s Dog Days, London: Thames & Hudson; Boston: Bullfinch Press.