The first half of the year Hockney spends in Santa Monica working on ambitiously scaled double-portraits, among them Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy and American Collectors (Fred and Marcia Weisman).
Whenever I said, "Relax," Christopher always sat with his foot across his knee, and he always looked at Don. Don never looked that way; he was always looking at me. So I thought, that’s the pose it should be.
I rented a tiny little penthouse in Santa Monica, old-fashioned, built in 1934, which for California is very old. It was like being on the Queen Mary, with the mist in the morning, in winter, and it was very nice. They were very happy times; once we were in the house, I didn’t care if I went out to see anybody or not.
There’s a Turnbull sculpture, a Henry Moore sculpture, other things, all part of them. The portrait, American Collectors (Fred and Marcia Weisman), wasn’t just in the faces, it was the whole setting .… There’s the totem pole in the picture that looks rather like Marcia. So it’s a slightly different kind of portrait in that the objects round the figures are a part of them.
Back in London, with trips to Europe
Based again in the U.K. for the summer, Hockney travels with friends to Paris, the South of France, Cornwall, and Northern Ireland. At the start of autumn, Peter Schlesinger enrolls at the Slade School of Art in London, moving in with Hockney at Powis Terrace. The pair make a trip to Le Nid du Duc, near Saint-Tropez, to visit the home of director Tony Richardson. With his 35mm camera, Hockney shoots photographs of Richardson’s magnificently situated swimming pool from various points of view. These become the source images for paintings completed back at Powis Terrace.
Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott
In December, he visits New York to draft studies prior to painting a double-portrait that resumes the scenario of his 1967 lithograph Henry and Christopher. With the skyscrapers of New York visible out the window, Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott, completed in early 1969, [NESTED]pictures the famously charismatic curator Geldzahler seated on a couch looking straight at the viewer, while his partner, Scott, known to be more reserved, stands in profile in his belted raincoat.
Christopher looks rather as if he’s going to leave or he’s just arriving. That’s how I felt the situation was. It’s a bit like that. Yes, that’s all intended in the picture.
Trouble with customs
When Hockney is re-entering the U.K., a British customs officer seizes male physique magazines from his luggage. Hockney immediately prepares to protest through legal action. He personally makes telephone calls to Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise, convinces Tate Gallery Director Norman Reid to send a letter to that office, and secures the word of art historian [NESTED]and broadcaster Sir Kenneth Clark that he will testify should the case be taken to court. The ordeal is much reported on in the U.S. and U.K. media, and Hockney’s possessions are eventually returned.
I remember they were delivered back in a large brown envelope that had OHMS [On Her Majesty’s Service] written on it. There was a list of everything they’d taken, which had all been written down by the customs man in this incredibly repressed handwriting. I think they were frightened that if I took it to court I would win. I defend my way of life. I was prepared to defend myself because I thought, "If I don’t do it, who will? And if nobody does it, they just rule."
- A Splash, a Lawn, Two Rooms, Two Stains, Some Neat Cushions and a Table … Painted, Kasmin Limited, London (opens Jan 19).
- David Hockney, Editions Alecto Gallery, London (Jan).
- Personal Drawings, Kasmin Limited, London (opens Sep 18).
- Oeuvrekatalog-Graphik, Galerie Mikro, Berlin (Nov 9–Dec 28); catalogue with a text by Wibke van Bonin, London: Petersburg Press.
- Manhattan Observed, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (Mar 22–May 12); catalogue.
- Junge Generation Grossbritannien, Akademie de Künste, Berlin (Apr 28–Jun 9); catalogue.
- New Generation 1968: Interim, Whitechapel Gallery, London (Apr–May); catalogue.
- From Kitaj to Blake: Non-Abstract Artists in Britain, Bear Lane Gallery, Oxford (Jun 8–29).
- 34th International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia (Jun 22–Oct 20); catalogue.
- Documenta 4, Kassel (Jun 27–Oct 6); catalogue.
- Menschenbilder, Kunsthalle Darmstadt (Sep 14–Nov 17); catalogue.
- European Painters of Today, Musée des Arts décoratifs, Paris (Sep 27–Nov 17); travels to The Jewish Museum, New York (Jan 21–Mar 16, 1969); National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. (Apr 9–Jun 1, 1969); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (Jul 5–Sep 8 1969); High Museum of Art, Atlanta (Sep 28–Oc 26, 1969); Dayton Art Institute, OH (Nov 17–Dec 14, 1969); catalogue.