This exhibition, drawn from the British Council Collection, focuses on the four major suites of prints produced by David Hockney over a sixteen year period from 1961-1977: A Rake’s Progress; Illustrations for 14 Poems by C.P. Cavafy; Illustrations for Six Fairytales from the Brothers Grimm, and The Blue Guitar.
United by their reference to historical works of literature and art, these prints were all produced during the first two decades of Hockney’s career when he established his international reputation as a Pop artist.
In A Rake’s Progress, Hockney transposed the moral tale of a squandered life, based on William Hogarth’s late eighteenth century series of the same name, onto his own semi-autobiographical tales of a summer spent in New York.
Hockney’s admiration for the poetry of C.P Cavafy, the Greek poet of Alexandria, inspired him to illustrate 14 of Cavafy’s poems, capturing the sensuality of the original poetry with intimate drawings of his friends in London.
His attraction to the simple direct style of writing in the world famous fairy tales collected by the Brothers Grimm was to influence one of Hockney’s most ambitious printmaking projects, a series of 80 etchings illustrating six titles, thirty nine of which were published by Petersburg Press in 1970.
The final suite The Blue Guitar, 1977 was based on the poem The Man with the Blue Guitar by the American poet Wallace Stevens, who had in his time been inspired by Picasso. The series of 20 colourful etchings with their vast array of imagery and styles are an homage to the Spanish master.