Demonstrations of Versatility
For this year’s Young Contemporaries exhibition, Hockney designs a poster and exhibits four canvases begun the previous year—Grand Procession of [NESTED]Dignitaries in the Semi-Egyptian Style, Flight into Italy – Swiss Landscape, Tea Painting in an Illusionistic Style, and Figure in a Flat Style. Assembled as a group and labeled Demonstrations of Versatility, they attest to Hockney’s decision to not be pinned down to a single style.
I paint what I like, when I like, and where I like, with occasional nostalgic journeys … I am sure my inspirations are classic, or even epic themes. Landscapes of foreign lands, beautiful people, love propaganda, and major incidents (of my own life). These seem to me to be reasonably traditional.
I realized you could play with style in a painting to make a "collage" without using different materials. The idea had been suggested to me by the work and ideas of Ron Kitaj, who’s kept me fascinated by style ever since. I thought, this is an interesting thing you can play with, style as a subject.
Gold Medal from the RCA
Hockney bends the rules on a few of the Royal College of Art’s graduation requirements—refusing to complete a final assignment to paint a female model from life, instead basing Life Painting for a Diploma on an image in a male physique magazine; insisting that his friend Mo McDermott be officially hired as a model so that he can make Life Painting for Myself; and submitting a thesis on Fauvism so hastily written that his tutors consider it twice before [NESTED]passing it. Indeed considered exceptional, Hockney is awarded a Gold Medal distinction, which he receives wearing his gold lamé jacket to the ceremony.
He enters into an agreement with the dealer John Kasmin that Kasmin will, as of Hockney’s graduation, represent his work for the next three years.
If you have someone who is keen on your work, you should follow them. It was exciting for me. John Kasmin was incredibly energetic and I quickly noticed that he had a good eye, especially for drawings. He was an interesting man, very knowledgeable about pictures, and I was part of his eccentric taste. He used to have a kind of salon every Tuesday night, and this is where I began to meet interesting people. All kinds of people came, and I found myself meeting the art world for the first time.
Post-graduation life in London
After a trip to Florence, Rome, and Berlin with his friend Jeff Goodman, Hockney begins teaching at Maidstone School of Art in the autumn. He sets himself up with a studio in his new home at Powis Terrace in West London’s Notting Hill district, [NESTED]where among the first works he completes are The First Marriage (A Marriage of Styles) and Picture Emphasizing Stillness.
When I moved into Powis Terrace, the biggest room was where I painted, and I had my little bed in the corner. At the end of the bed was a chest of drawers on which I painted a message rather carefully that said in large capital letters "GET UP AND WORK IMMEDIATELY." So the first thing I saw every morning when I woke up was the sign, and not only did I read the sign but I remembered that I had wasted two hours painting it, so I jumped out of bed.
I began the painting, Picture Emphasizing Stillness, without actually knowing its complete subject. Then I realized what was odd and attractive about it was that, although it looks as though it’s full of action, it’s a still; a painting cannot have any action.
Not just “Pop art”
Hockney’s work in the exhibition Four Young Artists: Maurice Agis, John Bowstead, David Hockney, Peter Phillips, which opens in midsummer at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London, is noted as a standout by reviewers, and not easily pegged as “Pop art.” The Times notes: “Mr. David Hockney [is] a fantasist with an entrancingly original imagination in[NESTED] which quaintness and caricature are combined. He does not reflect the outer world so much as project an inner one, the wry poetry of which is translated in a technique which can be extraordinarily exquisite and sensitive. But his performance is as precarious as a tight-rope act: the balance is perfectly held.”
- Young Contemporaries, RBA Galleries, London (Jan); catalogue with a text by Andrew Forge.
- Diploma Exhibition, Royal College of Art, London.
- Four Young Artists: Maurice Agis, John Bowstead, David Hockney, Peter Phillips, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (Jul).
- Third International Biennale of Prints, National Museum of Art, Tokyo (Oct 6–Nov 11); catalogue.
- Kompas II: Hedendaagse schilderkunst uit Londen, Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (Oct 21–Dec 9).
- Towards Art? The Contribution of the RCA to the Fine Arts 1952–1962, Royal College of Art, London (Nov 7–Dec 1); catalogue.
- Gold Medal, Royal College of Art, London.