Friday, December 1, 2017

Jill Krementz covers David Hockney at the Met

David Hockney makes a big splash at The Metropolitan Museum.
David Hockney
Met Museum
November 27, 2017--February 25, 2018

It was a highlight of my career to spend several days recently  with David Hockney in New York City — to be with him at the Walter Reade Theater discussing his refurbished  documentary as well as to attend the Met’s press preview and gala opening.
David Hockney (British, born 1937) is celebrating the year of his 80th birthday with major retrospectives of his illustrious  career in three museums: London’s Tate Britain, Paris’s Centre Pompidou, and now, The Metropolitan Museum of Art — the show’s only North American venue.

For nearly 60 years, Hockney has dazzled us with a love for painting and its intrinsic challenges. From his early engagement with modernist abstraction and mid-career experiments with illusion and realism, to his most recent jewel-toned landscapes, the versatile artist has consistently explored the nature of perception and representation with both intellectual rigor and sheer delight in the act of looking.

Organized by Ian Alteveer with the help of Meredith Brown, the exhibition spanning eight galleries includes an overview of the artist’s achievements across all media, including painting, drawing, photography, and video. We are treated to an unprecedented array of his early works in the '60s to the present.

Mr. Hockney flew to New York City to attend both the Press Preview and the Opening Night Gala at the Met. He seemed to relish  every minute despite not being allowed to smoke his beloved Camel cigarettes within the hallowed walls of the museum. 

In addition to being one of the greatest living artists, David Hockney is kind, generous, and self-effacing.  As he heads into his 81st year I wish for him much joy, success, and good health.
David Hockney at the morning press preview of his retrospective.  The painting: Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures); 1972
The Met’s CEO Daniel H. Weiss welcomes visitors to the Press Preview.
Met curators Sheena Wagstaff, Ian Alteveer, and Meredith Brown organized the New York exhibition.
David Hockney with Peter Goulds, who has been Hockney’s Los Angeles art dealer since 1979. Stephen Mazoh and Kay Bearman.  Steve is a private art dealer; Kay has been at the Met forever and worked closely for years with Bill Lieberman. 

Cleaning Teeth, Early Evening (10pm) W11


As Hockney grew more unabashed about his oil on canvas sexual identity, he created direct depictions of male subjects and queer love. Painted in 1962, at a time when sex acts such as fellatio were illegal, this picture would have been shockingly explicit; homosexuality was not decriminalized in Britain until 1967. Yet, in a playful move, Hockney replaced the figures’ genitalia with tubes of toothpaste, a comic counterbalance to the daring sexual subject matter. Moreover, the inclusion of the branded Colgate toothpaste and Vaseline jar reference Pop art’s fascination with household commercial items.

Domestic Scene, Los Angeles

Oil on canvas

Hockney painted this imaginary scene before ever visiting Los Angeles in person. Beefcake magazines such as Physique Pictorial—produced in Southern California but available by import in London—had fueled many fantasies about the city.

From the periodical’s pages, the artist chose a picture of a man with a small apron and not much else washing another’s back in the shower. Leaving swaths of the canvas exposed and adding only a few other furnishings, Hockney evokes a scene of intimate and voluptuous domesticity with the barest minimum.
A Lawn Being Sprinkled, 1967
Acrylic on canvas

As David is fond of saying, “In Los Angeles the rain comes up from the ground.”
The Room, Tarzana, 1967
Acrylic on canvas

In 1966, while teaching a drawing class at UCLA, Hockney met the young art student Peter Schlesinger, and they soon became inseparable. Schlesinger, wearing a white T-shirt and tube socks, modeled for the figure on the bed, while Hockney sourced the bedroom from a Macy’s print advertisement. The setting is  naturalistic and the bright light that enters the room through the opened shutters allows for a strong sense of three-dimensional space.
CeliaLos AngelesApril 10th, 1982
Composite Polaroid

Hockney began to experiment with photographic collage early in 1982, making work that explored key elements of his painting practice—namely time, motion, and perspective—in new ways. Here, he arranged Polaroid images into one large rectangle.

Detail of a much larger Pearblossom Hwy., 11–18th April 1986, #1
Chromogenic print

Hockney's photocollages became more complex as he continued to experiment, reaching their zenith here in 1986. After nine days and some 650 rolls of film, Hockney meticulously assembled from memory hundreds of richly colored photographs to depict this intersection in the Mojave Desert.

Although the work appears immediately comprehensible, it is a desert scene impossible to experience in real life. Close inspection reveals a multiplicity of viewpoints: each individual photograph is taken from a unique angle, equally detailed and in focus.

Pearblossom Hwy. is Hockney's final photocollage, the end of a four-year period that, in the words of one critic, felt "like a dive into uncharted waters, full of risk, excitement and promise."

My Mother, Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire

Nov. 1982

Like his drawings and paintings, many of Hockney’s photocollages depict his friends and family. Here, the artist’s mother sits atop a grave marker in front of a ruined Augustinian monastery in his native Yorkshire.

Using a 35-mm Nikon camera, Hockney took dozens of successive photographs from methodically varying angles and combined them into one overall composition — a process that helped him approximate the complicated, multiple viewpoints of Cubism. Furthermore, without the restrictive borders of the Polaroids, he could more freely assemble the scene, allowing its shape to expand organically with no fixed boundaries.
Self Portrait, 30th Sept. 1983
Charcoal on paper
David Hockney: November 20, 2017
Ian Alteveer with Carrie Rebora Barratt, Deputy Director for Collections and Administration of The Met.
Art critics Jason Kaufman and Edward Maloney.

South Korean multidisciplinary artist Kiya Kim.
Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy
Acrylic on canvas Private collection

For his first two subjects in his double-portrait series, Hockney chose his friends Christopher Isherwood, the author of The Berlin Stories, and Isherwood's younger companion, the painter Don Bachardy. For Hockney, they were the embodiment of a successful, intellectual, and emotionally complex couple, despite their thirty-year difference in age.

Here, depicted in their shared living room against a shallow backdrop of closed shutters, Isherwood turns to gaze at Bachardy, while the latter faces forward, toward the artist. This outward glance sets up a fascinating exchange of looks that, in its triangulation, also implicates the viewer.
Detail of Christopher Isherwood. Christopher Isherwood photographed by Jill Krementz three years later on March 21, 1992 at his home in Santa Monica, California.
Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott
1968-1969; Acrylic on canvas

In the autumn of 1968 Hockney returned to his studio in Notting Hill, London, while his then-companion Peter Schlesinger enrolled at the Slade School of Art. He made a brief trip to New York late that year to sketch his friend Henry Geldzahler, a curator at The Met, and Gelzahler’s boyfriend, the artist Christopher Scott, in their Seventh Avenue apartment. Hockney worked much of the first months of 1969 on the painting, incorporating some of the psychological tensions he had built into the previous two works in this group. While Geldzahler sits at center, Scott stands at right wearing a trench coat, as if he has just entered or is about to depart.
Ian Alteveer, John Spike, an Italian Renaissance scholar, and Charlie Scheips, a long-time former assistant  and dear friend of David’s. 

Andy, Paris
Graphite on paper
Hollywood Hills House, 1981-1982
Oil, charcoal, and collage on canvas
Deborah Solomon and David’s living room where she interviewed him earlier this year for The New York Times September preview issue.

Behind Deborah: Large Interior, Los Angeles (1988); Oil paint, ink on cut-and-pasted paper, on canvas
Views Through the Artist's Bedroom Window, Bridlington, 2010–13
Three-channel animation of iPad drawings

Apple Inc. released the first iPads, its popular tablet computer, in early spring 2010. Hockney soon acquired one of his own and began to experiment with the iPad's large touch-sensitive screen, using an application tailor-made for drawing to produce his first works in this new medium.

Hockney lived in Bridlington, on Yorkshire's coast, during this period, and he kept the tablet next to his bed so that he might use it first thing in the morning as well as last at night. Hockney has gathered a sampling of these drawings and arranged the sequence for this three-screen work.
A deluge of paparazzi. That is my colleague Tom Pollard, the Met’s  photographer, with black eyeglasses.
On display in the gift shop: a large Taschen book of David's work displayed on a colorful stand; $2,500. The tri-colored stand comes with the book.
A pair of white gloves is included in your purchase.

I love this poster which is on sale (but you can only buy it unframed).

It is a reproduction of the painting Mount Fuji and Flowers, 1972; Acrylic on canvas
Hockney fans will want to buy the catalogue; $50.
Also available: a large selection of Hockney books.

David Hockney at the evening reception; his only change of wardrobe from the morning’s press preview  being a gardenia boutonniere pinned to his lapel.
Vogue’s Anna Wintour who chairs the Met’s Costume Institute and is also on the board. Met Trustee Lulu Wang.

Paul Kasmin and David Hockney.

Mr. Kasmin has a Hockney solo exhibition of drawings, “Works on Paper: 1961-2009," currently on display in his Chelsea Gallery at 297 Tenth Avenue.

The exhibition includes a selection  of Hockney’s recent Yorkshire landscapes as well as intimate portraits and set designs from as early as 1961 during his time as a student at the Royal College of Art.
Paul Kasmin standing in front of Hockney’s 1963 portrait, Play Within a Play, of Kasmin’s father John Kasmin who, at that time, was David’s art dealer in London.  
Pace Director Douglas Baxter and  Arts patron Joan Quinn. Bing McGilvray, who has been the subject of one of Hockney’s portraits.
David Hockney is talking to Charlie Scheips about his visit to Radio City the previous night where he saw the Rockettes in action. Jeff Rosenheim, the Met’s Photography Curator, with Mark Fisch, a trustee of the museum.
Artist Jeff Koons with Paul Kasmin.

Giancarlo Giammetti (Valentino’s partner) with David Hockney.
Christopher Mason. Richard Menschel.
Artist Frank Stella and his wife, Dr. Harriet McGurk. That is a big fat cigar in Frank’s breast pocket. My husband and I purchased our 1740 Sagaponack house from the Stellas and love the purple bureau and red bedside tables they left for us. Ashton Hawkins (longtime legal counsel for the Met) with his honey, Johnny Moore.

Tony Bennett with his wife Susan Benedetto.

On the wall: Going Up Garrowby Hill 2000; Oil paint on canvas

The Bennetts know as much about art as most of the curators.  Mr. Bennett spends a lot of time painting in his studio and in Central Park where he is a master of en plein air.
Photographer Ray Charles White with his girlfriend,  designer Adrienne Rogers.  Tony Bennett is in the background. Jackie and Irving Blum.
Photographer Lloyd Ziff.
Richard Solomon, founder of  Pace Prints. Philanthropist Laurie Tisch with Nichols Canyon (1980); Acrylic on Canvas
Trustee Mark Fisch and Sheena Wagstaff. Isabelle Dervaux, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Drawings at The Morgan Library & Museum.  The oil painting is The First  Marriage (A Marriage of Styles 1); 1962.
Gay Held, Isabelle Dervaux, and Charlie Scheips.
Belinda and Philip Haas. Filmmaker/artist Philip Haas’s restored documentary movie, “A Day on the Grand Canal with the Emperor of China, or: Surface Is Illusion But So Is Depth (1998)," was screened on November 16 at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater.   David with Mike Hearn, the Met’s Curator in charge of the Department of Asian Art.
The aforementioned documentary  features David Hockney discoursing on Wang Hui's 72-foot-long scroll. The 45-minute film was followed by an onstage interview with Hockney discussing spatial perspective and its fluctuating role within painting and the photographic arts.

Mike spent a day with Hockney at the museum spreading out on the floor another 80-foot Chinese scroll.
Painter Julian Lethbridge is with Paula Cooper, where I covered his recent solo show
Hanna Sandin, Julia Trotta, Cynthia Leung, and Marlous Borm.
Shoes worn by Hanna Sandin, who is an artist and jewelry designer.
Kevin Young, whose new book Bunk was published November 14th. Mr. Young is the head of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, as well as the Poetry Editor at The New Yorker. As I was leaving — Adam Weinberg in front of the lobby’s Sol LeWitt.
What an artist is trying to do for people is bring them closer to something, because of course art is about sharing: you wouldn't be an artist if you didn't want to share an experience, a thought.
— David Hockney

Text and photographs © by Jill Krementz: all rights reserved. Contact Jill Krementz here.