David Hockney : selling exhibition at Babylon ARTS final week

David Hockney : selling exhibition at Babylon ARTS final week

Babylon Gallery, Waterside, Ely CB7 4AU
Exhibition closes Sunday 23 July 2017

Open: Tues - Sun 12pm - 4pm Free entry, donations welcome

Following our highly successful Chagall exhibition, the Babylon Gallery is delighted to bring you
David Hockney selling exhibition. Hockney is one of the most popular and influential artists
of the twentieth century.  

David Hockney and The Brothers Grimm

Hockney began working on etchings for Grimm's Fairy Tales in the late sixties. He had made some experimental prints inspired by 'Rumpelstiltzchen' in 1961 and 1962 and now wanted to make a whole book.  He loved the stories and had read all 220 of them over the years.  He eventually chose twelve stories but only did engravings for six.

Hockney loved the directness of the language of the Grimm brothers and the elements of magic in the tales, and his illustrations to each of his chosen six focuses on his imaginative response to descriptions in the text rather than the more usual fashion of concentrating on the most important events in the narrative. For instance, he chose 'Old Rinkrank' because it starts with the words 'A king built a glass mountain', and he was fascinated by the problem of drawing a glass mountain.   In one of the most disturbing stories, 'The boy who left home to learn fear', Hockney interprets the description of the sexton disguised as a ghost standing 'still as stone' as a tall rock surrounded by stones, recalling Magritte's paintings of ordinary objects made out of stone.

The work of engraving the copper plates was carried out by Hockney with his assistant Maurice Payne on special tables set up in the Powys Terrace studio.  The acid baths were kept on the balcony outside, because otherwise the fumes would have filled the whole flat. The finished etchings formed a more complex project than anything he had attempted before.  His new technique of cross-hatching instead of using aquatint achieves a much richer range of tones.  The fairy tale illustrations show an extraordinary range of imagery including portraiture, landscapes, architecture, imaginative compositions and pure inventions.

Extracted from Portrait of David Hockney by Peter Webb, Chatto and Windus 1988




David Hockney first discovered the Greek poet C.P.Cavafy whilst a student at the Royal College of Art in the early 1960s, producing two etchings and a painting inspired by the poetry. In 1966 he was asked to make a series of etchings relating to Cavafy, a project which he willingly undertook.  

Hockney’s choice of poems all related to Alexandria in Egypt with its barely concealed flavour of homosexual love. However the city was now unrecognisable from the place that had inspired Cavafy in the 1920s, forcing Hockney to travel to Beirut where he made drawings of the daily life of the city.  On his return to England he worked the drawings up into etchings which demonstrated his fascination with observed reality.  

Hockney’s images are not literal illustrations of the poems but visualizations of their nostalgia for fleeting but memorable sexual encounters and their feeling of authenticity is enhanced by Hockney's own personal experiences.  They were immediately acclaimed by contemporary commentators and Edward Lucie - Smith described them as not only the best work I have seen by the artist but probably the finest prints produced in England since the war.

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