A suite of etchings [published in 1970 by Petersburg Press in association with Kasmin Gallery.
Hockney chose six from the 220 stories collected by the Brothers Grimm, selecting whose which challenged his imagination to give visual form to the oddities of narrative and supernatural elements in them. He was intrigued by the psychological strangeness of the tales, the relationships and motivations of the characters, and many of his interpretations are almost arbitrarily personal in approach. He relishes the themes of greed and ambition, the metamorphoses and the surmounting of obstacles, just as tackling the illustrations is a challenge to the artist. As always in his work, Hockney makes extensive use of the art of the past, and there are direct allusions to Uccello, Carpaccio, Leonard, Brueghel and Magritte. He sees this as a natural method, revitalising an artistic heritage in terms of the legacy of folklore, using ‘what the story suggests visually’.
Etching proved an ideal medium to convey the clarity and directness of the stories and Hockney’s technical mastery is shown at its best in the virtuoso handling of line and texture. He is fascinated by the possibilities of intaglio and delights in manipulating burin, aquatint, soft-ground and hatching to give a great wealth of textures. He uses a wide range, from pure line through to a deeply bitten aquatint, from a formal crosshatched background to the illusionistic graining of a wooden floor.
These prints bear all the characteristic qualities of David Hockney’s art – a strong interest in story telling and the interaction of human emotions, the fascination of conveying the supernatural and the psychological in visual terms, and the delight in exploring new ranges of technique with which to set down his perceptions.
The show originated in 1984 and continued to tour until the late 1990s. The exhibition was accompanied by a leaflet, containing the artist’s comments taken from an interview reproduced in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s 1972 exhibition of the same title.