Until 11 May 2014
Just as you enter the Dulwich Picture Gallery’s fantastic new exhibition devoted to Hockney’s lesser known etchings and lithographs the accompanying notes tell you everything you need to know about the Yorkshireman’s prodigious ability to conquer new mediums; when he ran out of funds as a student at the Royal College of Art Hockney heard that materials in the print-making studio were free so he swiftly switched to etching, an immensely skilled process that Hockney famously learnt in just fifteen minutes; the gallery has included the very first etching that the artist created as a student. That was 60 years ago and Hockney has produced an immense amount of work since then but his printmaking has always lurked in the shadows, never given the full attention that it deserves – until now that is. Curator Richard Lloyd has arranged work thematically with half the show given to etchings and another half to lithography which was Hockney’s printing focus in the 70s and 80s. What this show really illustrates is the way in which Hockney continually challenges himself – reverting back and forth between mediums and creating evermore sophisticated work and techniques (with the help of his master printers) so that by his later lithographs he is combining different colours in hugely complex prints. Lloyd has gathered together some of Hockney’s most noteworthy work such as his update on Hogarth’s Rake’s Progress and groups such as The Weather Series or A Hollywood Collection which were inspired by his trips to California in the 60s. As with Hockney’s paintings there is always an emphasis on the personal, whether it’s a sweet lithograph of his two dachshunds or the many notable portraits of his close friend Celia Birtwell that appear in the show or of course the many works of half-naked young men. Printmaking may not have the sexy allure of painting – but you’ll come away from this show with a deeper understanding of all of Hockney’s art.