Hockney begins a group of oil paintings of the Santa Monica Mountains. He also translates the visual experience of a sunset drive along the Pacific Coast Highway and through the Santa Monica Mountains into a 90-minute-long sound experience, Wagner Drive, timed to convey the landscape via music to passengers in his red convertible Mercedes.
You’d come around a corner and as the music rose you’d see the setting sun suddenly revealed. It was like a movie. What you were seeing and what you were hearing came together in a fantastic way. Even kids who you’d never get to sit still and listen to music enjoyed it in a moving car. They saw that what I was doing was telling you to look. Someone wanted to film it, but I said it was a four-dimension experience, minimum. I did it in an open car, so you could look around in every direction. I knew what speed to go at, when to press my buttons to change the music. It took some time, but if I did it well, everything fitted marvelously.
Computer software drawing
After attending a three-day technology conference in Silicon Valley, Hockney ventures into the new medium of computer drawing software—integral to his visual arts practice in the decades to come. He makes drawings on an Apple MacIntosh computer using the Oasis program, and prints them out using the Canon color laser printer.
I bought the Canon RC 470 camera, used it, and at first thought the result was a bit fuzzy, that there was something not that good about it, until I explored it more and understood the way it recorded color .... I realized color was coming out in a different way, no film was being used, the camera was seeing and putting digits onto a disc. I then put the disc into a little machine tied to the printer and you could print the photographs practically any size. If you printed four on a page, they were more sharply focused and the color seemed rather rich and rather unphotographic .... I was struck by the strong quality of the color.
Still-video camera works
Hockney’s preoccupation with emergent photographic and computer technologies leads him to purchase the Canon RC 470, a still-video camera that records analogue pictures onto floppy disc. In his Hollywood Hills home, he shoots images that can be printed at human scale as soon as moments later. To friends he sends fifty copies of an album he titles 40 Snaps of My House, August 1990. The series 112 L.A. Visitors comprises composite [NESTED]portraits, each of an individual standing in front of one of his paintings.
I shoot full-length portraits, moving the camera vertically in stages down the bodies of my subjects, usually ending up on my knees, taking about five or six different portions which we’d then paste together. In this way it was possible to make images approaching life-size .... The color of the laser prints was quite unusual and intense—unlike any other kind of photographic reproduction. By shooting close to the subject one avoided the grainy effect caused by atmosphere between camera and subject.
Video cameras, this time Handycams, enable Hockney, working with assistant Richard Schmidt, to do lighting tests on his design models for Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot, to open at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in January 1992. The [NESTED]production is also a collaboration with costume designer Ian Falconer.
It will be three hours of absolute magic, I will make the eye hear more and the ear see more. I love the music and delight in finding forms to fit it.
I used deep ultramarines, and we put lights on it, and it shimmered. There were mist effects, all done just with color. Right at the end, it has to change back to this grand room in the palace where they ask Turandot, "Have you found his name?", and she answers, "His name is love." That’s it; they sing the big chorus. The place was red, quite a brilliant red. With ordinary lights on it looked horrible. We put blue lights on it, which made it a deep purply shade. Slowly, when she sang "His name is love," it began to change. As we put more red light on, it got redder and redder and redder. You think it can’t get any redder, but it does, until the end when it just bursts. On television you couldn’t do that, because there’s a limit to the red that the screen can show. In the theater, though, it works stunningly.
The ambitious Turandot project, which begins in September, is disrupted for a week in November when Hockney is hospitalized after a mild heart attack.
- Prints from the Sixties and Seventies, Lorence-Monk Gallery, New York (Feb 3–24).
- Fax Prints, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (Apr 1–29).
- Cameraworks, Miriam Shiell Fine Art, Toronto (Apr 2–28).
- David Hockney: 25 Years of Printmaking, Berkeley Square Gallery, London (Jun 7–Jul 7).
- Early Drawings, Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York (Jun 19–Jul 28).
- David Hockney's Prints, Tamagawa, Takashimaya, Japan (Sep 20–Oct 2).
- Dibujos en fax de David Hockney, Centro Cultural Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City (Oct 1990–Jan 1991); catalogue.
- Prints and Photographs, Douglas Drake Gallery, New York (Nov 30, 1990–Jan 19, 1991).
- Things Recent, André Emmerich Gallery, New York (Dec 5, 1990–Jan 5, 1991); catalogue titled Things Recent and a Catalogue with New Kinds of Reproduction.
- Glasgow’s Great British Art Exhibition, Glasgow Museums (Mar 27–May 9); catalogue.
- The Assembled Photograph, Wright State University, Dayton (Apr 1–May 13); catalogue.
- Friends of the Royal Academy, Royal Academy of Arts, London (summer).
- David Hockney, Picasso, New York: Hanuman.
- David Hockney (Shinchosha’s Super Artists), Tokyo: Shinchosha.
- Commitment to Life IV Award, AIDS Project Los Angeles.