Celia – Adjusting Her Eyelash (1979) is a signed lithograph in black on Twinrocker wove paper by David Hockney. The work presents Celia Birtwell who became the icon of Hockney’s portraits in the late 1980s, featuring in over thirty of his prints. The artist’s signature style of representing domestic interiors is renounced here in favour of a complete focus on the human subject. Unlike My Parents And Myself (1979) or Mr And Mrs Clark And Percy (1970-71), celebrating intimate relationships as well as the spaces related to them, Hockney mutes the background in Celia – Adjusting Her Eyelash to fully expose the intimacy of the captured moment.
The print is in dialogue with a rich lineage of artists including Henri Matisse and Edgar Degas whose depictions of women link the domestic space to the intimate moments of introspection.
Sitting on a chair in front of the mirror, the central figure of the print is rendered in thin contour that shares stylistic affinity with such 1979 works as Celia Reading and Bill And James II. In each of these prints, Hockney establishes the intimacy of the scene by showing his subjects to be unaware of the painter’s gaze. The down-to-earth realism of the scene reminds the viewer of Hockney’s lifelong interest in photography and, as a stark departure from his colourful, detail-oriented portraits of family and friends, exemplifies the artist’s continued need to diversify his work.