Auden

Auden
Signed Print

David Hockney

Drypoint, 1970
Signed Print Edition of 8
H 52cm x W 39cm

Critical Review

This 1970 signed print by British artist David Hockney depicts one of the artist’s literary heroes, Anglo-American poet and writer, W.H. Auden, who wrote the libretto for Stravinsky’s opera, The Rake’s Progress – a tale immortalised by Hockney in his print series of the same name. This print was released in a very limited edition of 8. Testament to Hockney’s admiration of Auden’s work and the important role it played in inspiring his artistic works, the print was produced 3 years before Auden’s death in 1973: a year which saw a major retrospective exhibition of Hockney’s work held at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, and in various venues across Europe. Unlike other prints in the series, which position Hockney alongside his heroes — such as Pablo Picasso, as in The Student (1973) and Artist And Model (1973) — this print places Auden at the centre of its composition. Unlike Hockney’s later Photo Collages works, in which a multitude of different perspectives are included within a single image, this is a concentrated, unifocal study of the artist’s subject.  Gestural in its approach, it is an example of drypoint etching; a technique which in this case births an economical likeness of the poet’s famously bold facial features. Much like the print Maurice Payne (1971), there is an ethereal quality to this piece which emanates, in large part, from Hockney’s lightness of touch.