Beverly Hills Housewife
1966

Beirut and Cavafy

At the start of the year, Hockney is in Beirut, making preparatory sketches for a set of etchings, Illustrations from Fourteen Poems from C. P. Cavafy, to be printed back in London with Maurice Payne. The images, mostly delicate line drawings of intimate scenes between men, are inspired by the writings of the Greek Egyptian poet [NESTED]Constantine Cavafy (1863–1933), whom Hockney has adored since his days at the Royal College of Art, in particular for his vivid, unapologetic evocations of homosexual desire.

Of course Cavafy’s poems are about gay love, and I was quite boldly using that subject then. I was aware that it was illegal, but I didn’t really think much about that at the time. I was living in a bohemian world, where we just did what we pleased. I wasn’t speaking for anybody else. I was defending my way of living.

Of course Cavafy’s poems are about gay love, and I was quite boldly using that subject then. I was aware that it was illegal, but I didn’t really think much about that at the time. I was living in a bohemian world, where we just did what we pleased. I wasn’t speaking for anybody else. I was defending my way of living.

Studies for 'Illustrations for Fourteen Poems from C.P. Cavafy', 1966
Portrait of Cavafy II from "Illustrations for Fourteen Poems from C.P. Cavafy"
Portrait of Cavafy in Alexandria from "Illustrations for Fourteen Poems from C.P. Cavafy"
Two Boys Aged 23 or 24 from "Illustrations for Fourteen Poems from C.P. Cavafy"
He Enquired After the Quality from "Illustrations for Fourteen Poems from C.P. Cavafy"
To Remain from "Illustrations for Fourteen Poems from C.P. Cavafy"
According to the Prescriptions of Ancient Magicians from "Illustrations for Fourteen Poems from C.P. Cavafy"
In an Old Book from "Illustrations for Fourteen Poems from C.P. Cavafy"
The Shop Window of a Tobacco Store from "Illustrations for Fourteen Poems from C.P. Cavafy"
In the Dull Village from "Illustrations for Fourteen Poems from C.P. Cavafy"
The Beginning from "Illustrations for Fourteen Poems from C.P. Cavafy"
One Night from "Illustrations for Fourteen Poems from C.P. Cavafy"
In Despair from "Illustrations for Fourteen Poems from C.P. Cavafy"
Beautiful and White Flowers from "Illustrations for Fourteen Poems from C.P. Cavafy"
Police Building, Beirut
Untitled
Ready Cleaners
Boys in Bed, Beirut
In the Dull Village
Semi-Reclining Male Nude

Ubu Roi in London

For a revival of Ubu Roi at London’s Royal Court Theatre, Hockney does his first theater design work. He is reluctant to do it but enticed by the instructions of the absurdist playwright Alfred Jarry, which forbid traditional scenery. 

In paintings before that I had been interested in what you might call theatrical devices, and I thought that in the theater, the home of theatrical devices, they would be contradictory …. So I agreed to do it without knowing how to do it. I took each scene and made a drawing of it. The concept was basically very simple: little painted backdrops, much smaller than the stage. They were like big paintings, about twelve feet by eight feet. They dropped down with big ropes on them like a joke toy theater.

Hockney in front of a sign for Ubu Roi
Costume Drawing from "Ubu Roi"
Emperor Alexis from "Ubu Roi"
Costume Study from "Ubu Roi"
Windmill from "Ubu Roi"
Ubu's Throne from "Ubu Roi"
Pere and Mere Ubu from "Ubu Roi"
Ubu Thinking from "Ubu Roi"
Mere and Pere Ubu from "Ubu Roi"
Ubu's Banquet, with Conveyor Belt Table from "Ubu Roi"
Ubu Roi. Drawing of Props from "Ubu Roi"
Bordue in His Cell from "Ubu Roi"
Ubu's Camp near Warsaw and the Polish Army from "Ubu Roi"
Polish Army from "Ubu Roi"
Ubu Collecting Taxes from "Ubu Roi"
Curtain for Ubu Roi from "Ubu Roi"
Mr. and Mrs. Ubu from "Ubu Roi"
Design from "Ubu Roi"
Cave from "Ubu Roi"
Ubu's Closet from "Ubu Roi"
Crypt from "Ubu Roi"
Cave-Blue from "Ubu Roi"
Royal Palace I from "Ubu Roi"
Russian Royal Palace from "Ubu Roi"
Royal Palace II from "Ubu Roi"
Ubu's Closet II from "Ubu Roi"
House from "Ubu Roi"
1st Financier 2nd Financier from "Ubu Roi"
Capt. Bordure from "Ubu Roi"
All the Magistrates from "Ubu Roi"
Russian Priest from "Ubu Roi"
Palace Photographer from "Ubu Roi"
Ubu's Cloak from "Ubu Roi"
Snowy Landscape and Flat Rock from "Ubu Roi"
Page of Sketches from "Ubu Roi"
4th Noble - Prince of Pololia and Countess of Cracow from "Ubu Roi"
Captain Bordure in Prison and Bodyguard from "Ubu Roi"
1st Noble, Count of Vitepsk and 2nd Noble, Grand Duke of Posen from "Ubu Roi"
Polish Soldiers from "Ubu Roi"
Very Ordinary Sea Captain's Outfit from "Ubu Roi"
Clerk from "Ubu Roi"
2nd Noble, Grand Duke of Posen from "Ubu Roi"
All the Sailors from "Ubu Roi"
Grion from "Ubu Roi"
Woman and Man from "Ubu Roi"
Boleslas, Ladislas, Bougrelas from "Ubu Roi"
Phynancial Horse from "Ubu Roi"
Royal Palace III from "Ubu Roi"
Messengers from "Ubu Roi"
Phynancial Conveyance from "Ubu Roi"
Flames from "Ubu Roi"
Phynancial Conveyance, Rock and Flames from "Ubu Roi"
Phynancial Horse II from "Ubu Roi"
Battle Machine from "Ubu Roi"
Michael Federovitch from "Ubu Roi"
Princess of Podolia from "Ubu Roi"
Pere Ubu from "Ubu Roi"
Ubu's Horse from "Ubu Roi"
Mere Ubu's Hat from "Ubu Roi"
Ubu Roi. Cave Scene from "Ubu Roi"

Los Angeles

Hockney returns again this year to L.A., and moves into a studio on Pico Boulevard. “Every time you put the gas on, cockroaches sped away from the oven, but I didn’t mind. I never had a phone put in, because right outside the door was a phone booth and I kept quarters and dimes to [NESTED]make phone calls.” Teaching drawing at the University of California, Los Angeles, over the summer, he meets Peter Schlesinger, who becomes his frequent model as well as romantic partner. 

Southern Californian lifestyle

After meeting the arts patron Betty Freeman, Hockney captures the glamour of the Southern Californian lifestyle in the painting Beverly Hills Housewife, of a tall blonde staring out the window of her modernist, cactus-decorated home. The twelve-foot-long painting is made of two joined canvases due to the limited space in Hockney’s studio—“I could never get more than about five feet away”—and plays with the stylized depiction of rays of light hitting glass-wall surfaces. It is the first painting he bases on his own preparatory black-and-white photography; in doing so he rearranges the elements of Freeman’s house and garden to better suit the composition.

Beverly Hills Housewife, 1967
Study for 'Beverly Hills Housewife'
Study for 'Beverly Hills Housewife'
Betty, October 1966
GA 001 p. 44
GA 001 p. 44
GA 001 p. 44

Reflections on water

In works such as Sunbather and Portrait of Nick Wilder, the effect of light landing on water is as much the subject of the paintings as their human figures.

I had become interested in the more general problem of painting the water, finding a way to do it. It is an interesting formal problem, really, apart from its subject matter; it is a formal problem to represent water, to describe water, because it can be anything—it can be any color, it’s movable, it has no set visual description. I just used my drawings for these paintings and my head invented.

I had become interested in the more general problem of painting the water, finding a way to do it. It is an interesting formal problem, really, apart from its subject matter; it is a formal problem to represent water, to describe water, because it can be anything—it can be any color, it’s movable, it has no set visual description. I just used my drawings for these paintings and my head invented.

Sunbather, 1966
Portrait of Nick Wilder, 1966

Exhibitions

Solo

  • David Hockney, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (Feb 12–26).

  • David Hockney, Galleria dell’Ariete, Milan (opens Mar 8); catalogue with a text by Patrick Procktor.

  • Tekeningen en etsen, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (Apr 1–May 8).

  • Preparatory Drawings of the Sets for the Production of Ubu Roi; Twelve Etchings Inspired by the Poems of C. P. Cavafy, Kasmin Limited, London (opens Jul 22).

  • David Hockney, Studio Marconi, Milan.

Group

  • British Prints in the Sixties, Arnolfini, Bristol (May–Jun).
  • The Harry N. Abrams Family Collection, Jewish Museum, New York (Jun 29–Sep 5); catalogue.
  • The Marzotto Prize: Metropolitan Scene, Images and Objects, Valdagno (Sep); travels to Baden-Baden, Humlebæk, Amsterdam, London, and Paris; catalogue.
  • First International Print Biennale, Cracow.
  • The Rake’s Progress: William Hogarth and David Hockney; touring exhibition organized by the British Council (through 1993).

Film

Film

  • Love's Presentation, 28 min., Maya Films, a documentary by James Scott on the making of Hockney's Illustrations from Fourteen Poems from C. P. Cavafy.