David Hockney has been an important figure on the international art scene for half a century, and he has been among the most experimental in terms of embracing new art forms and technologies. While his recent show in Melbourne focused solely on his iPad drawings, the NGA’s upcoming exhibition David Hockney: prints, in Canberra from 11 November, will explore the broader history of his printmaking practice through key works from our extensive collection, one of the largest in the world. This free exhibition will illuminate his great experiments in printmaking over the decades, which have expanded the possibilities of the medium as we understand it today.
Curator: Jane Kinsman, Senior Curator
Touring Dates and Venues
This touring exhibition was sponsored by Visions of Australia.
- Cairns Art Gallery, QLD
15 February – 22 April 2019
- Araluen Centre for Arts and Entertainment, NT
3 May – 16 June 2019
- Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre, NSW
13 July – 8 September 2019
- Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, VIC
5 October – 1 December 2019
Since 1954, making prints has been an integral part of his art practice and he has excelled in the field. During a period that has witnessed a revival in this art form, Hockney has created a significant body of work. Through constant experimentation and innovation he has pushed the boundaries of printmaking in terms of style, subject matter, technique and scale, giving him a different point of view in his art practice.
Importantly, printmaking provided Hockney with a diversion when other forms of his art, notably painting, were in a stylistic and iconographic cul-de-sac. The history of Hockney’s involvement in making prints has formed a critical path in his overall artistic development in all its variety of forms. For much of his life as an artist, he has been freer, more experimental and less inhibited in his approach to creating art when making prints, and later iPhone and iPad drawings, than when painting. Hockney’s artistic development has been characterised by one obsessive focus replacing another. This is especially evident in his career as a printmaker, highlighting his natural way of working.
Hockney’s development from an emerging artist to a mature and successful one lay in his constant searching for new ways of depiction. He was constantly posing pictorial problems and then trying to solve them. To this end, Hockney developed a hybrid art in his printmaking, one of wide ranging eclecticism. He then turned to naturalism, only to find he needed to explore other choices, ultimately rejecting the Renaissance tradition of one-point perspective. The emergence of new styles, such as Pop Art, had an influence on his printmaking, as has his lifelong admiration for Pablo Picasso, and his personal interpretation of Cubism played a significant role in his art.
As a mature artist Hockney achieved a fusion of the abstract and formal elements in his work to tackle age-old issues—how to portray someone, how to depict a landscape and season, time of day and weather conditions, and how to indicate space and time in two-dimensional art forms. For Hockney, printmaking has been an integral part of this search and discovery.
Hockney’s initial chosen methods of lithography and then etching, so suitable for an artist whose prime focus was on drawing, beguiled him from the very beginning as he honed his skill as a gifted draughtsman. As an artist he has always been fascinated with various ways of making art, and in printmaking he experimented with ‘homemade prints’, using photocopies and faxes, as well as computer drawings as a precursor to his current iPhone and iPad compositions.