LATEST NEWS

Modern Masters Spotlight - David Hockney and Andy Warhol

 

In his 80th year David Hockney continues to be the darling of the international art world and one of the two greatest influencers on printmaking in modern times, the other being Andy Warhol. Hockney is currently the subject of a major museum retrospective at Tate Britain in London which will tour to the Centre Pompidou, Paris and The Metropolitan Museum, New York.

Clarendon Fine Art is honoured to be able to offer for sale two seminal examples of these Modern Masters' work in printmaking: Hockney's Hotel Well III, 1976 and Warhol's Marilyn, 1967. David Hockney first met Andy Warhol at an exhibition at the Stable Gallery in New York in 1963. Warhol invited Hockney to his brownstone on Lexington Avenue that same night where he met the actor and photographer Dennis Hopper who photographed the pair together in a now famous image with Henry Geldzahler (then assistant curator at the Metropolitan Museum) and Hockney's friend Jeff Goodman. The two later made portraits of one another. The Tate has a graphite drawing of Hockney which Warhol made in 1974.

For both artists it was America which had provided the fuel for their greatest masterpieces. For Hockney it was Los Angeles, for Warhol it was New York, but Hockney would always see the great master of Pop Art whenever he was in the Big Apple. In 1987, the year he died, Warhol asked Hockney to create a cover for his Interview Magazine. In an interview with Charlie Scheips from Harpers Bazaar in 2011 Hockney remembered that "We spent an afternoon with Warhol at the Factory, and Warhol told us he was going to have his gallbladder removed the next week. We flew back to Los Angeles only to hear the news that Warhol had died two days after the surgery”. That April, Hockney attended the memorial service at New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral, and that night, looking over the Manhattan skyline, he said, "Now that Andy is gone, how will people know what the hot spot is each night? Andy always knew." Warhol himself had felt a similar sense of loss following the death of Marilyn Monroe in 1962. Each based on a publicity photograph for Marilyn's 1953 film, Niagara, the 'Marilyn' series of silkscreen prints arguably remain one the most lasting artistic icons of the last 100 years.

Warhol found in Monroe a fusion of two of his consistent themes: death and the cult of celebrity, and in his repeated use of the Marilyn image, he not only evokes her ubiquitous presence in the media, but moreover, he reveals the carefully structured illusion of her public persona; manufactured, commodified, and consumed like any other product. Normally only used for commercial printing, The silkscreening process paralleled Warhol's thinking. The artist himself recalled, “In August ‘62 I started doing silkscreens. I wanted something stronger that gave more of an assembly line effect. With silkscreening you pick a photograph, blow it up, transfer it in glue onto silk, and then roll ink across it so the ink goes through the silk but not through the glue. That way you get the same image, slightly different each time." Hockney has been similarly obsessed with the demanding and complex processes of making prints - although his celebrated career as a printmaker began almost by accident. When Hockney arrived at the Royal College of Art in 1959, the painting department required students to purchase their own materials, for which Hockney had no money; the materials in the print department however were provided, so Hockney chose focus on etching as an extension of his knowledge of lithography a technique he had studied at art school in Bradford. The lithograph, Hotel Well III, from Hockney's 'Moving Focus' series is a culmination of all his study and mastery of the medium. The subject is the Hotel Romano Angeles which Hockney stumbled upon when his car broke down in Mexico and he and his assistants were forced to spend the night. Hockney produced a number of important artworks of the hotel's courtyard specifically including a set of drawings, paintings, and the current work, one of the most iconic and sought after in Hockney’s print oeuvre. The work is housed in the original hand-painted frame designed by Hockney which extends the play on perspective highlighted in the image. As Hockney has explained in relation to the Moving Focus series: “There is a principle in Chinese painting called ‘moving focus.’ It acknowledges the spectator’s moving eye and body. For this reason the Chinese would not have needed cubism, (although photography will now make it necessary for the contemporary Chinese). Most of these prints try to utilize this idea in some form. When the body is felt to move, the depiction of space is changed from a static ‘hollowing out’ to a more dynamic restless one...closer, I think, to our experience of it.”


Other impressions of this work have been acquired by numerous important international museum collections including the Tate Gallery London; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis; and the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

To view our selection of artwork by David Hockney and Andy Warhol contact a Clarendon Fine Art gallery.