Hockney first started drawing dogs in 1987 when he adopted his first pair of dachshunds. What began as a casual drawing exercise soon became a series of tender portraits that are now an important part of his oeuvre.
In 1995 Hockney took this practice one step further and began painting his dogs, in reaction to the grief he felt over the death of Henry Geldzahler and many other close friends he lost to the AIDS crisis of the preceding years. Speaking of this turn in his work Hockney said, “I wanted desperately to paint something loving. … I felt such a loss of love I wanted to deal with it in some way. I realized I was painting my best friends, Stanley and Boodgie. They sleep with me; I’m always with them here. They don’t go anywhere without me and only occasionally do I leave them. They’re like little people to me. The subject wasn’t dogs but my love of the little creatures.” In this work, titled Stanley And Boodgie, Horizontal Dogs we see Hockney using the intaglio method to portray his dogs sleeping. Curled up beside one another they are rendered in brick red ink, their fur reduced to a flat block of colour, their features and paws delineated by loose brushstrokes.