Large Scale Painted Environment with Separate Elements Based on Hockney’s Design for Poulenc's Opera 'Les mamelles de Tiresias' from "Hockney Paints the Stage"
1983

Drawing twice

At the very start of the year, Hockney makes a photographic collage of Ann Upton, David Graves, and his mother caught at various moments—variously lost in thought—over a game of Scrabble. In February, in Japan to speak at a conference about paper in art, he takes photographs, turning them into photographic collages when he returns to England.

The Scrabble Game, Jan. 1st 1983, 1983

Walking in the Zen Garden

To compose a picture of a fifteenth-century Japanese rock garden, Walking in the Zen Garden at the Ryoanji Temple, Kyoto, Feb. 1983, [NESTED]Hockney applies obsessive concentration to collaging a field of pebbles: “I had to count and really look at those pebbles to link one with another.” Hockney’s own feet appear walking across the bottom of the picture plane—upending the fixed-point perspective of the observer in Western art.

I began looking at photography from various points of view. They said perspective was built into the camera. But my experiments showed that when you put two or three photographs together, you can alter perspective. The first picture I made where I felt I had done that was in Japan where I photographed Walking in the Zen Garden at the Ryoanji Temple, Kyoto, Feb. 1983. I made it into a rectangle by moving around myself and taking shots from different positions, whereas any other photograph would show it as a triangle .... I was very excited when I did that. I felt I made a photograph without Western perspective. It took me a while. I didn’t know much about Chinese art, even when I went to China. The photography I did took me to Chinese scrolls.

I began looking at photography from various points of view. They said perspective was built into the camera. But my experiments showed that when you put two or three photographs together, you can alter perspective. The first picture I made where I felt I had done that was in Japan where I photographed Walking in the Zen Garden at the Ryoanji Temple, Kyoto, Feb. 1983. I made it into a rectangle by moving around myself and taking shots from different positions, whereas any other photograph would show it as a triangle .... I was very excited when I did that. I felt I made a photograph without Western perspective. It took me a while. I didn’t know much about Chinese art, even when I went to China. The photography I did took me to Chinese scrolls.

Walking in the Zen Garden at the Ryoanji Temple, Kyoto, Feb. 1983, 1983

Studying Chinese scrolls

Hockney becomes engrossed in Chinese scrolls, in large part because they offer an alternative to the Western approach to perspective. [NESTED]He spends considerable time studying them at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and at the British Museum in London, and reads Principles of Chinese Paintings (1959) by George Rowley, the founder of Princeton University’s studies in Far Eastern art.

It was an attack on perspective—it was all about the spectator’s being in the picture, not outside it—an attack on the window idea, that Renaissance notion of the painting’s being as if slotted into a wall, which I’d always felt implied the wall and hence separation from the world. The Chinese landscape artists, with their scrolls, had found a way to transcend that difficulty. In my own photocollages, some of the ones I’d done on my trip to Japan earlier that year, I’d been pushing the notion of the observer’s head swiveling about in a world which was moving in time, but I’d really only just begun to try and deal with how to portray movement of the observer’s whole body across space. And that’s precisely what these Chinese landscape artists had mastered, according to Rowley.

It was an attack on perspective—it was all about the spectator’s being in the picture, not outside it—an attack on the window idea, that Renaissance notion of the painting’s being as if slotted into a wall, which I’d always felt implied the wall and hence separation from the world. The Chinese landscape artists, with their scrolls, had found a way to transcend that difficulty. In my own photocollages, some of the ones I’d done on my trip to Japan earlier that year, I’d been pushing the notion of the observer’s head swiveling about in a world which was moving in time, but I’d really only just begun to try and deal with how to portray movement of the observer’s whole body across space. And that’s precisely what these Chinese landscape artists had mastered, according to Rowley.

Paul Explaining Pictures to Mie Kakigahara, Tokyo, Feb. 1983, 1983

A lecture, “On Photography”

Hockney, more and more preoccupied with the challenge of representing different moments in time as another aspect of multi-perspective image-making, delivers a lecture in November at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, which argues for a multi-viewpoint and multi-temporal approach to photography, to better reflect the lived human experience.

Sitting in the Zen Garden at the Ryoanji Temple, Kyoto, Feb. 19, 1983, 1983

I made pictures of a walk in a Zen garden where I attempted to show the experience of walking, so that one might see the entire experience, in time. It means that you must look with your memory. Then it led me to believe that we’re always looking without memory .... I came to the conclusion that there is no such thing as objective vision. There never can be, because even the memory of the first instant of looking is then part of the perception, and it adds up and it adds up. It brought me closer to the way we actually experience the activity of seeing, and it actually led me back to drawing and painting, with a whole new sense of the possibilities to be found there.

Hockney Paints the Stage

For the exhibition Hockney Paints the Stage at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, planned as an exhibition of his theater design sketches and models, Hockney decides new works must be made. He builds nearly full-scale tableaux of select scenes from past productions, which are, in some cases, fresh departures. When the exhibition travels to London, John Russell Taylor notes in the Times that the work shows “brilliant and unflagging inventiveness to be sure, but also every evidence of the blood, sweat and tears which must have gone into the creation of these apparently effortless designs.”

Theatrical design is about creating different kinds of perspective, but the perspectives can’t be quite real in the theater, because they have to be made in such a way that they create an illusion. That’s why I liked designing operas, although I enjoyed the music as well.

Hockney in the studio
Hockney preparing for "Hockney Paints the Stage"
Hockney painting in the studio
Hockney working on a set design piece
Punchinello on Canvases for 'Parade Triple Bill' from "Hockney Paints the Stage"
Large Scale Painted Environment with Separate Elements Based on Hockney’s Design for Poulenc's Opera 'Les mamelles de Tiresias' from "Hockney Paints the Stage"
Large-Scale Painted Environment with Separate Elements based on the Stage Design for 'Auction Scene' from 'The Rake's Progress' from "Hockney Paints the Stage"
Large-Scale Painted Environment with Separate Elements based on the Stage Design for 'Bedlam' from 'The Rake's Progress' from "Hockney Paints the Stage"
Large-Scale Painted Environment with separate elements based on the Stage Design for Ravel's Opera 'L'enfant et les Sortileges' from "Hockney Paints the Stage"
Large-Scale Painted Environment with Separate Elements Based on the Stage Design for Stravinsky's Opera 'Le Rossignol' from "Hockney Paints the Stage"
Model for 'Magic Flute' from "Hockney Paints the Stage"

Self portraits

For six weeks in the autumn, Hockney makes scrutinizing self portraits at an unrelenting rate. In Marco Livingstone’s appraisal,[NESTED] “It is curiously comforting to know that even someone with such a sunny disposition sometimes experiences such moods .... What I value above all in these drawings is Hockney’s avowal of our common humanity. His readiness to depict himself with the same honesty and casual forthrightness that has always marked his portrait of others.”

They were drawn mostly early in the morning. I noticed if you did this they were always different: not only did you have different expressions, you also had totally different moods and feelings, and that affects your mind. I realized that your mood is reflected in the way you draw the lines and marks. You also try to pick up the mood of the sitter, so in a portrait of someone else there are two moods. In a self portrait it is the same mood .... The self portraits do reflect the fact that even I was beginning to panic a little bit about the massive amount of work I had taken on.

They were drawn mostly early in the morning. I noticed if you did this they were always different: not only did you have different expressions, you also had totally different moods and feelings, and that affects your mind. I realized that your mood is reflected in the way you draw the lines and marks. You also try to pick up the mood of the sitter, so in a portrait of someone else there are two moods. In a self portrait it is the same mood .... The self portraits do reflect the fact that even I was beginning to panic a little bit about the massive amount of work I had taken on.

Self Portrait with Tie
Self Portrait with Cigarette
Self Portrait with Watch
Self Portrait with Check Jacket
Self Portrait with Striped Shirt
Self Portrait October 31st Minneapolis
Self Portrait from the Side
Self Portrait 28th Sept.
Self Portrait 26th Sept.
Self Portrait with Striped Shirt and Tie
Self Portrait 30th Sept.
Self Portrait 11th Sept.
Self Portrait Oct. 24th
Self Portrait in Mirror
Self Portrait without Shirt
Self Portrait without Glasses
Self Portrait with Mouth Open
Self Portrait Looking Over Glasses
Self Portrait with Striped Shirt
Self Portrait with Head on Hand
Self Portrait with Check Jacket and Tie
Self Portrait with Bow Tie
Self Portrait 25th Oct.
Self Portrait with Plain Jacket (& Verso)
Self Portrait (Check Shirt)
Self Portrait with Eyes and Glasses (& Verso)
Self Portrait 8th Sept.
Self Portrait 12th Sept.
Self Portrait 13th Sept.
Self Portrait 12th Sept.
Self Portrait 13th Sept.
Self Portrait with Hands
Self Portrait with Finger Behind Glasses
Self Portrait with Watch
Self Portrait with Shirt and Tie
Self Portrait 9th Sept.
Self Portrait Chin on Hand II (& Verso)
Self Portrait with No Shirt (& Verso)
Self Portrait with Eyes Screwed Up

Exhibitions

Solo

  • Drawings for the Theatre, Nishimura Gallery, Tokyo (Feb–Mar).
  • David Hockney, Frankfurter Kunstverein (Mar 15–Apr 24); catalogue with a text by Peter Weiermair.
  • New Work with a Camera, André Emmerich Gallery, New York (May 7–Jun 3); L.A. Louver, Venice, CA (May 14–Jun 25); and Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago (May 14–Jun 30).
  • David Hockney, Knoedler/Emmerich Gallery, Zurich (Jun–Jul).
  • Kasmin’s Hockneys: 45 Drawings, Knoedler/Kasmin Gallery, London (Jul 5–Aug); catalogue.
  • The Blue Guitar: Etchings by David Hockney, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, New Zealand (Aug–Sep).
  • David Hockney, Björn Bengtsson, Varberg (Sep–Oct).
  • New Work with a Camera, Nagase Photo Salon (Oct 3–15) and Nishimura Gallery (Oct 3–29), Tokyo.
  • David Hockney in America, William Beadleston, Inc., New York (Nov 8–Dec 10); catalogue with text by Christopher Finch.
  • Photographs by David Hockney, Hayward Gallery, London (Nov 9, 1983–Feb 5, 1984), touring exhibition organized by the British Arts Council; catalogue with a text by Mark Haworth-Booth.
  • Hockney Paints the Stage, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (Nov 20, 1983–Jan 22, 1984); travels to Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Fort Worth Art Museum; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and Hayward Gallery, London (through 1985); catalogue with texts by Martin Friedman, John Cox, John Dexter, David Hockney, and Stephen Spender.
  • David Hockney: Posters, Royal Festival Hall, London (Dec 10, 1983–Jan 8, 1984).

Group

  • Britain Salutes New York (Caro, Hockney, Nicholson), André Emmerich Gallery, New York (Apr 27–May 27).
  • In Color: Ten California Photographers, The Oakland Museum, CA (May 21–Jul 17).
  • Photographic Visions by Martha Alf, Chuck Close, Robert Cumming, David Hockney, Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Ruscha, Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies (Sep 19–Oct 16).
  • Eight by Eight to Celebrate The Temporary Contemporary, Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles (Oct 25–Nov 26).
  • American/European Painting and Sculpture Part II, L.A. Louver, Venice, CA (Nov 12–Dec 23).

Publication

Publication

  • David Hockney, On Photography: A Lecture at the Victoria and Albert Museum, New York: André Emmerich Gallery.

Film

Film

  • David Hockney: Joiner Photographs, 50 min., directed by Don Featherstone.

Honor

Honor

  • Honorary Degree at the University of Bradford.