Picasso & Modern British Art

  • 4th August − 4th November 2012 | Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art | £10 (£7)

David Hockney

David Hockney has taken inspiration from Picasso throughout his career. Cubism and cubist theory have formed a significant foundation for his art, in both painting and photography, since around 1980. The influence of Picasso emerges in Hockney’s artistic development so repeatedly and consistently that it almost provides a narrative to the younger artist’s career,

Hockney engaged directly with the idea of Picasso as master in two etchings made following the artist’s death in 1973. He went on to produce a suite of twenty etchings inspired by Wallace Stevens’ 1937 poem The Man with the Blue Guitar, which was itself inspired by Picasso’s The Old Guitarist (1903). Using various Picasso motifs, these and a few related paintings explored a realm of imagination as opposed to rational observation.

While these etchings anticipated a major turning point in Hockney’s art, it was in 1980 that Picasso seemed to offer Hockney an escape from realism. A commission to design a production of Erik Satie’s ballet Parade, famously designed by Picasso in 1917, and a major Picasso retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, encouraged Hockney to take a new course. After a summer of intense activity in London, he returned to Los Angeles and began the monumental Mulholland Drive (1980), which launched a new direction in his work at the centre of which were the aesthetics and ideas of cubism.

Although his analysis and use of cubist values were most marked in the early 1980s, Hockney has continued referring to them. He has lectured and published on the subject, they have affected the way Hockney uses photography and even his most recent experiments with video are based on a cubist conception of time and space.

Next: Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde