Portrait Of A Friend Essay

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Gemini G.E.L.: A Catalogue Raisonné, 1966–2005
David Hockney

Although he is skilled in etching, David Hockney's collaborations at Gemini have focused on lithography to a much greater extent. Many of his lithographs are portraits of the artist's friends, several of whom have come to Gemini to pose in specially constructed homelike interiors. Mainly essays in black and white, the earlier portraits such as Celia 8365 Melrose Ave., Hollywood (23.19) are drawn principally with lithographic crayon, a technique that shows Hockney's proclivity to develop a likeness with careful tonal modeling. In contrast, later lithographs such as Celia—Musing (23.53) are drawn with liquid lithograph tusche and present a marked alteration in approach. For example, in Big Celiaprint #2 (23.80), a portrait of Hockney's friend Celia Birtwell, drips and drops of lithograph tusche activate the surface, adding texture and enhancing the artist's broad gestural strokes. Hockney's choice of this technique conveys the immediacy and joy he feels in the act of observing and recording.

As Hockney continued his work at Gemini through 1980s and 1990s, his varied experiences in designing operas and experimenting with computer-generated imagery exercised a marked influence on his prints. Hockney's stagelike settings with changing terrain, imaginative perspectives, as well as implied costume/figure fragments are easily distinguished in a work such as Ink in the Room (23.93). A number of other prints produced in the 1990s have been described as abstract pictures with stories, or narrative abstraction. These observations describe the inherent animation and latent force that characterize such works. Prints such as Going Out (23.88) can apparently depict either interior or exterior space, with figures that emerge quickly and dissolve like phantoms back into patterns. Hockney championed computer-generated imagery early on, and many of his prints of this period employ technology to create textures and tones.

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Art and Technology | The 1960s | The 1970s | Robert Rauschenberg
Ellsworth Kelly | Jasper Johns | David Hockney | Sam Francis | Roy Lichtenstein
The 1980s | Jonathan Borofsky | Richard Serra | The 1990s | Elizabeth Murray
Into the Fourth Decade | Toward the Future


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