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David Hockney
David Hockney Etching Nude Male 1966 Original Poems




An original etching by David Hockney called "In An Old Book" is one of thirteen etchings for Illustrations for Fourteen Poems from C.P. Cavafy, which is included in the collection of The Tate Modern. This work comes with a COA. This piece comes with custom framing. This etching and aquatint is printed on handmade Crispbook wove paper, signed and dated in pencil and inscribed ‘a.p.’ (1 of 5 artist's proof) apart from the edition of 75, published by Alecto Editions, London, Listed in Andrew Brighton: David Hockney Prints 1954-1977 [Catalogue Raisonne]. Midland Group Gallery, Nottingham/ Scottish Arts Council. 1979. no. 59 Hockney's first major series of etchings since A Rake's Progress (1961-3), it was conceived almost entirely in terms of line, and contained some of the artist's most accomplished line drawings to that date. He had made earlier references to the writings of the pre-war Greek poet Constantine P. Cavafy. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, 1961 (Tate Gallery P11377), contains a quotation from the last two lines of the poem 'The Mirror in the Hall', and A Grand Procession of Dignitaries in the Semi-Egyptian Style, 1961 (private collection) was inspired by the poem 'Waiting for the Barbarians'. But this was Hockney's first major statement inspired by the poet. Although he originally intended to illustrate a far more ambitious range of poems, this proved impractical and he therefore decided only to include those on the subject of homosexual love. A new translation was produced by the poets Stephen Spender and Nikos Stangos, and published with the etchings in 1967. In early 1966 Hockney went to Beirut, which he saw as the contemporary equivalent of Cavafy's Alexandria, to research imagery for the prints. While taking inspiration from Cavafy's poetry, Hockney also drew upon his own experiences and environment. For instance, his ink drawing Boys in Bed, Beirut (1966) (in fact drawn in London using two of his friends as models) was adapted for one of the prints, According to Prescriptions of Ancient Magicians. Photographs were also used as reference material, especially for such prints as this work, In an Old Book, and The Beginning, and the portraits of Cavafy - images he describes as 'very posed' (Livingstone, p.86). Hockney was not entirely pleased with the results, however: 'Things like weight and volume are very hard to get from a photograph. You don't get the information you need to be able to do the line' (Livingstone, pp.87-8). Hockney conceived the images, like the English texts, as an updated translation of Cavafy's imagery. Portrait of Cavafy II depicts the poet in front of an architectural setting copied from a drawing Hockney made of a Beirut police station, with a modern car in the foreground. Only a few of the etchings (He Enquired After the Quality, The Shop Window of a Tobacco Store) depict a particular place or scene as described in the poems. Hockney did not work with the poems at his side, nor did he intend each image to be an illustration of a particular poem. Rather, he and Stangos assigned poems to the etchings only after the prints were done. Intended as visual equivalents to the mood and theme of all Cavafy's homoerotic poetry, Hockney's etchings depict variations on the theme of two men engaged in endless, anonymous pick-ups. Certain themes are found in the work of both Hockney and Cavafy: fleeting experiences, a nostalgia for the erotic, and a desire to be deeply involved in the lives of others while remaining a detached spectator. Further reading: Nikos Stangos (ed.), David Hockney by David Hockney, London 1976, pp.14, 102, reproduced pp.137-9 Marco Livingstone, David Hockney, revised edition, London 1987, pp.85-89 (reproduced) Marco Livingstone, David Hockney: Etchings and Lithographs, exhibition catalogue, Waddington Graphics, London 1988, introduction [pp.10-11], reproduced pls.16-19 Description by The Tate Modern Terry Riggs November 1997


  • Creator
    David Hockney (1937, British)
  • Creation Year
  • Dimensions
    Height: 26 in. (66.04 cm)Width: 20 in. (50.8 cm)
  • Medium
  • Movement & Style
  • Period
  • Framing
    Framing Options Available
  • Condition
  • Gallery Location
    Buffalo, NY
  • Reference Number
    1stDibs: LU13928742102

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About the Artist

David Hockney

The art of David Hockney is always engaging in its pleasant ambiguities: It’s warm but somehow aloof; filled with light yet often dark and brooding in subject; simple, frank and mundane, but also ethereal and complex. The artist’s stature in the contemporary art world is such that, in a 2011 survey of one thousand British painters and sculptors, he was named the most influential British artist of all time.

Hockney grew up in Bradford, in the northern English county of Yorkshire, studying at the Bradford School of Art from 1953 to ’57, and at the Royal College of Art in London from 1959 to 1962. Though he was educated in art a time when abstraction dominated the field, Hockney stuck resolutely to figurative painting and drawing. His early paintings suggest a search for a style, veering from Expressionism to a grotesquerie suggestive of James Ensor. But Hockney found himself almost the moment he arrived in Los Angeles, in 1963. The move from the gray and rainy Britain to a world of bright sunshine and sparkling water brought Hockney a sense of freedom and an artistic epiphany. He would spend most of the next five years in L.A., painting luminous pictures, such as A Bigger Splash (1967), of things that made him happy: swimming pools, manicured lawns, palm trees, stucco buildings and luxuries like shower stalls. Hockney also painted people, almost always his friends. His California portraits such as Beverly Hills Housewife (1966) are considered to be his finest work. They are at once grandly scaled, intimate and poetic.

In the 1970s, Hockney moved back to Britain and spent much of his time on photography and printmaking. He returned to painting in the 1980s, and to subjects like still lifes, seascapes and portraits. Hockney has always been fascinated by the use of technology in art — he’s credited with inventing the technique of joining Polaroid photos in a collage to form a panoramic picture — and has been using the Brush app to paint on an iPad. Because he is prolific and works in a wide range of mediums, Hockney’s art is available at many price points. His consistently striking and provocative work should have a place in any comprehensive collection of contemporary art.

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