David Hockney has produced an overwhelming number of Flower drawings and paintings throughout his career. In this series, each print varies in subject and style, exhibiting Hockney’s talent for printmaking.
Hockney’s fascination with flowers has spanned his entire career, and this series emphasises his explorations into the still-life genre. From the late ’60s to his most recent exhibition of digital paintings the natural world has played an important role in the development of the artist’s unique style.
Flowers have always been an important part of the still life genre, featuring in over the top bouquets in Dutch 17th century paintings or in looser configurations for the subject by modernists such as Matisse, and Hockney’s interest in them appears to be academic as well as aesthetic.
With this collection of works we see Hockney moving deftly across the various techniques encompassed by the medium of print. From muted lithographs featuring his cross hatching style – which in turn refers back to earlier masters he admired such as Hogarth and Morandi – to more expressionist etchings such as Four Flowers In A Vase, Hockney shows his mastery of print to great effect when depicting flowers.
While he may be best known for his pools and his portraits, Hockney’s love of flowers is a cornerstone of his oeuvre. Representing his fascination with the natural world married with the artifice of still life, they are the subject of some of his most delicate and moving works.
From tulips to lilies, every flower arrangement in this series of drawings is unique.
This series shows Hockney’s use of varied techniques and print mediums. Throughout his career Hockney has always found ways to challenge himself, to push the boundaries of print, whether through buying an office photocopier to produce the series Home Made Prints or applying himself to the study of a particular technique used by Picasso. Speaking in 1980 the artist stated, “I love new mediums … I think mediums can turn you on, they can excite you: they always let you do something in a different way”.
Hockney’s love for digital drawings is exemplified by prints in this series like Lilacs. The artist began drawing flowers from his bed in 2009 after he bought his first iPhone. Hockney used the iPhone painting app, experimenting with a variety of brushstrokes, colours and lines.
Every morning along with his breakfast, Hockney’s boyfriend, chef John Fitzherbet, would place a simple flower arrangement in a glass which the artist would then paint on his iPhone. Many of the works in this series are a record of that morning routine.
Hockney’s friends would receive these iPhone flower drawings by email. One of the friends was Charlie Scheips, a curator, who saw potential for an exhibition of the works.
Though Hockney created over 600 of these drawings, about 300 of the iPhone and iPad versions were shown in an exhibition, David Hockney: Fleurs Fraiches, at the Foundation Pierre Berge in 2010.