Exhibit Plunges Into Hockney Highlights

Liverpool -- A new exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery brings to together a unique selection of paintings and prints, which chart the early development of this iconic British artist. 'David Hockney: Early Reflections' is on display at the Walker Art Gallery through 16 March 2014.

Art collectors of ArtKabinett social media network have offered rave reviews of this important art retrospective of one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.

Bringing together a unique selection of paintings and prints by the artist it will chart the development of Hockney's style and subject matter during the swinging 1960s and into the following decade.

Paintings from his time at the Royal College of Art include evolving references to his own homosexuality. Later on in the decade, after a transformative move to sunny Los Angeles, his work becomes more openly homoerotic and celebrates his bohemian lifestyle.

The Walker's painting 'Peter Getting out of Nick's Pool', shown here, which won the John Moores Painting Prize in 1967, together with key works from the Arts Council Collection, are at the center of this fascinating exploration of an iconic British artist.

In 1966 Hockney travelled to Los Angeles for the second time. Greatly attracted by the sunny climate and relaxed atmosphere of West Coast America, he began to record the lifestyle there in his work. He went on to produce a series of paintings based on the theme of the swimming pool.

In the painting above, Hockney's friend Peter Schlesinger is depicted climbing out of the swimming pool of Nick Wilder, a Los Angeles gallery owner. The painting is a composite view. Schlesinger did not actually model in the pool; the pose derives from a snapshot of him leaning against his MG sports car. The white border and square format of the painting are reminiscent of the Polaroid prints Hockney used as studies for the composition.

Through recurring obsessions such as the evolving references to his own homosexuality, depictions of the reflective qualities of water and his persistent return to portraiture, the exhibition reveals how his style, which flourished during the 1960s, had changed dramatically by the early 1970s.

The exhibition offers 40 pieces on display, dating between 1960 to 1978, and is an insight into Hockney’s prodigious talent which was evident even as a student.

Grouped thematically, the exhibition is divided into four sections:

In the Mood for Love - This section looks at some of the major early paintings that Hockney produced at the Royal College of Art (1959-62). Influenced by the bohemian and creative atmosphere in London during the swinging 1960s, the work explores the ‘modern’ style Hockney had developed.

Despite a repressive social backdrop, where homosexuality was still illegal, Hockney found the confidence to express his sexuality in an increasingly overt way within his college work. This section features a number of the Love Paintings, including the masterpiece We Two Boys Together Clinging (1961) from the Arts Council Collection, Cliff (1962) and Going to be Queen for Tonight (1960)

Picturing Poetry - Nicely coinciding with the Greek culture ministry’s Year of Constantine Petrou Cavafy (1863-1933), this section looks at Hockney’s admiration for the poet. It includes twelve etchings for the book Illustrations for fourteen poems from Cavafy (1966), a translation of his homoerotic poems.

Hockney used personal experiences with friends and lovers to imagine Cavafy’s tender scenes of doomed love between young men. To demonstrate Hockney’s skill and versatility as a draughtsman and printmaker, the Cavafy etchings are displayed alongside two illustrations for the Brothers Grimm tales, from the Walker’s collection.

On Reflection - Hockney’s water-themed paintings, particularly those of swimming pools are among his most renowned. This section deals with Hockney’s pre-occupation with the depiction of transparent surfaces, especially water, and his distinctive array of ‘visual signs’ with which to represent it.

Around nine works in this section, including the iconic Peter Getting out of Nick’s Pool (1966); a fascinating study for Portrait of an Artist (Pool with two figures) (1971/2) and a lithographic print of his poster design for 1972 Munich Olympics, combine an array of vivid colors.

Familiar Faces - Portraiture has always been central to Hockney’s work. Preferring to make portraits of people he knows, a selection of works from the Arts Council Collection introduces some of his early social circle, revealing the skill, sensitivity and psychological insight with which he represented them.

In the early 1960s Hockney began a short-lived spell of experimenting with abstraction and still life. One of the outcomes of this period is the Art Council Collection’s painting Portrait Surrounded by Artistic Devices (1965), a depiction of Hockney’s father, sat behind a pile of abstracted geometric shapes, and beneath a colorful arc. The painting responds to Cezanne’s idea that all nature can be reduced to cylinders, spheres and cones.

David Hockney, OM CH , (born 9 July 1937) is an English painter, draughtsman, printmaker, stage designer and photographer. He lives in Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire, and Kensington, London.

Hockney maintains two residences in California, where he has lived on and off for over 30 years: one in Nichols Canyon, Los Angeles, and an office and archives on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood.

An important contributor to the Pop art movement of the 1960s, he is considered one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century.

The exhibition is also part of the 'Arts Council Collection Partnerships sponsored by Christie's' program and Homotopia festival 2013.