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Three Kings And A Queen

Three Kings And A Queen
Signed Print

David Hockney

Intaglio, 1961
Signed Print Edition of 50
H 50cm x W 69cm

Critical Review

Issued in an edition of 50 in 1961, Three Kings And A Queen is a print characteristic of Hockney’s whimsical and tongue-in-cheek approach to making art. The piece comprises a series of four figures, each confined within the geometric space of an oblong.  Recalling the rigid forms of playing cards, some of these ‘trapped’ figures are accompanied by the letter ‘K’, denoting ‘King’. During the 1960s, Hockney made an extended use of lettering in his cartoon-like etchings, many of which were inspired by French Dadaist, Jean Dubuffet. Part of the reasoning behind Hockney’s fascination for placing lettering alongside his depictions of figures was the work of other influential ‘60s artists, such as British painter John Hoyland. One of Damien Hirst’s greatest inspirations, Hoyland was well-known for numbering or lettering his works, rather than giving them descriptive titles. It was precisely this practice that Hockney deemed pretentious, and which he wished to draw attention to through parody. Although Three Kings And A Queen may appear simple, it is bound up with a rhetorical and philosophical reasoning characteristic of Hockney’s considered approach to making artworks. Recalling the gilded trompe l’œil frames of A Hollywood Collection, each of the print’s rectangular shapes acts as a frame. Allowing the figures inside of them to break free from their framings – in this case, playing cards – Hockney entertains a different way of ‘seeing’ the visual and material culture around us.

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