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Kaisarion With All His Beauty

Kaisarion With All His Beauty
Signed Print

David Hockney

Intaglio, 1961
Signed Print Edition of 50
H 70cm x W 50cm

Critical Review

Kaisarion With All His Beauty is a signed print by much-loved British artist David Hockney. Issued in an edition of 50 in 1961, its semi-surrealist approach to the human body references Hockney’s expressive and gestural approach to etching during the early 1960s, as well as the artist’s early love for French Dadaist, Jean Dubuffet – a figure he sought to emulate in his work of the period. C.P. Cavafy’s poem ‘Alexandrian Kings’ is the main source of inspiration for this particular piece. Produced when Hockney was still a student at London’s Royal College of Art, this print bears the hallmarks of Hockney’s extended invocation of sexual themes. Much like the artist’s internationally famous 1961 painting, We Two Boys Together Clinging, Kaisarion With All His Beauty makes visually-coded references to various subject matter, a practice inspired by the American poet Walt Whitman; alongside the piece’s title, Hockney is sure to inscribe the piece with the words ‘ALEXANDRIA’, ‘CLEOPATRA’, and ‘MUM’. Hockney’s inclusion of a band of soldiers, positioned along the base of the composition and rendered in profile, recalls the Bayeux tapestry and hieroglyphic paintings from Egypt. The derision of authority is also a theme present within this work: much like the 1962 etching, Diploma, which Hockney made in mocking response to the Royal College of Arts’ overly traditional approach to assessment, it features the seal of the British royal family.

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