Making Bigger Trees
Hockney completes the largest painting of his lifetime, Bigger Trees near Warter or/ou Peinture sur le motif pour le Nouvel Age Post-Photographique. At 15 by 40 feet, it comprises 50 canvases, each painted outdoors, with the entire composition planned using digital photography for display across an entire [NESTED]wall at the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition. A public sensation at the RA, and likely the largest en plein air painting ever made, Hockney will gift the work to Tate in the following year.
It’s not a painting that makes you think, "I want to step into it." Your mind is already in it. The picture engulfs you.
I’d already done quite a few paintings made up of six canvases. After I’d finished, we reproduced them—there were nine of them—in rows of three. I hung them by my bed in Los Angeles, and I saw that there were images of 54 canvases up there. Then it came to me that it was possible to make a picture that size in the same way that we’d done the other smaller ones. Using digital photography to help you see what you are doing. Then, I thought, My God! It would be an enormous painting, but it would be good on the end of the wall of the big gallery at Burlington House [at the Royal Academy]. That grand room—you could use it. Why not? I’d found a way to do an eye-catching landscape for the Summer Exhibition. It was quite a challenge, but I realized that the computer would help there. So I asked the RA if I could have that wall. And they said yes.
The largest en plein air painting
I’d go and sit there for three hours at a time just looking at the branches, lying down practically so I looked up. Then I began drawings, which weren’t detailed, because I didn’t want to make drawings that I just then blew up. They were to guide me about where each canvas was in the composition. The painting had essentially to be done in one go—meaning, once you started, you had to carry on until you finished it. It needed a hell of a lot of planning, but we did it rather quickly. The deadline wasn’t the Summer Exhibition. The deadline was the arrival of spring, which changes things.
Turning seventy at Tate Britain
In the year of his 70th birthday, Hockney is celebrated as an artist in the lineage of Britain’s most revered painters: Tate Britain invites him to curate a show from its collection of J. M. W. Turner’s watercolors.
- The East Yorkshire Landscape, L.A. Louver, Venice, CA, USA (Feb 9–Mar 24); catalogue.
- The Mirror and the Mask: Portraiture in the Age of Picasso, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza and Fundacion Caja, Madrid, Spain (Feb 6–May 20), travels to Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, TX (Jun 17–Sep 16); catalogue.
- Annely Juda: A Celebration, Annely Juda Fine Art, London, UK (May 24–Jul 28); catalogue.
- Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK (Jun 11–Aug 19); catalogue.
- Hockney on Turner Watercolours, Tate Britain, London, UK (Jun 11, 2007–Feb 3, 2008), includes works by Turner and Hockney; catalogue.
- Pop Art Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, London, UK (Oct 11, 2007–Jan 20, 2008), travels to Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart (Feb 23–Jun 8, 2008); catalogue.
- StageStuck: The Magic of Theatre Design, Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, New York, NY, USA (Nov 13–Dec 22).
- Garden of Eden: The Garden in Art Since 1900, Kunsthalle Emden, Emden, Germany (Dec 2, 2007–Mar 30, 2008), travels to Städtische Galerie, Bietigheim-Bissingen, Germany (Apr 19–Jul 6, 2008).; catalogue.
- David Hockney: The East Yorkshire Landscape, by David Hockney, Venice, CA.
- Hockney on Turner Watercolors, by David Hockney, London: Tate Gallery Publications.
- David Hockney, by Paul Melia and Ulrich Luckhardt, Munich, London, and Berlin: Prestel.