What To Collect Now - Prints & Editions Report


In 2010 Apple released the first iPad and David Hockney’s printmaking technique was once again transformed. The digital drawings in this series include charming studies of flowers and interiors that definitive marking a new chapter in Hockney’s style, yet are unmistakably of his hand.

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Meaning & Analysis

Exclaiming in 1980 that “I love new mediums,” Hockney’s iPad Drawings series is a perfect example of the artist’s keenness to experiment. Throughout his career he experimented with numerous printing techniques, from etching and aquatint to screen printing and lithography. In 2010 Apple released the first iPad and Hockney’s printmaking technique was once again transformed. His daily drawing practice was given new life as he swapped sketchbook for screen and found that his bold and colourful compositions could be conjured up anywhere, from Yosemite to Yorkshire, from his garden to his living room.

The digital drawings in this collection include charming studies of flowers and interiors that while definitively marking a new chapter in Hockney’s style are unmistakably part of his oeuvre. Here we see his eye for colour and composition, his innovative use of line and tone, as well as his ubiquitous charm and ingenious eye, in full bloom.

Using the Brushes app, Hockney moves between the thin sketchy lines of his etchings to washes of colour we recognise from his lithography to achieve a bold contrast between petal and stalk, flower and vessel. Perhaps one of the most effective of his digital drawings sees Hockney painting the rain on his studio window, creating a touching scene that is at once filled with realism and yet resolutely digital. Mixing patterns and textures, line and brush, Hockney gives the prints an energy that takes them beyond the flatness of their digital medium.

Hockney had embraced the digital before, when he began working with an office photocopier in 1986 for his series Home Made Prints. As with this earlier series the iPad offered a new autonomy to Hockney. While he enjoyed working with collaborators such as Kenneth Tyler and Maurice Payne who would prepare etching plates for him, he relished the chance to work alone and with complete spontaneity, unfettered by the challenges of a traditional medium. This new freedom also meant that Hockney could produce one drawing and then print it digitally in large editions, making some of his most recent works also some of his most affordable.

This collection also demonstrates Hockney’s long running love of depicting flowers which can be considered as important a subject in his oeuvre as portraits, or swimming pools. Here he shows his eye for reproducing the natural world in all its vibrance and variance, through free and yet detailed studies of lilies, tulips and roses.

10 Facts About David Hockney's iPad Drawings

Rain On The Studio Window by David Hockney

Rain On The Studio Window © David Hockney 2011

1. The series attests to Hockney's love of experimentation.

Back in 1980, Hockney proclaimed “I love new mediums”. Since then, he has been confronted with ever-evolving technologies to integrate into his practice. From his obsession with the Xerox photocopier to downloadable art packages on his mobile phone, Hockney has refused to stick to one medium. Hockney's iPad Drawings exemplify the artist's thirst for innovation, and his ability to emulate his distinctive style through digital media.

Glass Vase, Jug And Wheat by David Hockney

Glass Vase, Jug and Wheat © David Hockney 2020

2. The Apple iPad transformed Hockney's printing process.

Hockney began experimenting with art software on his iPhone in 2008. Since then, he upgraded to the iPad for its larger screen and advanced technology. The iPad offered Hockney a lightweight means to carry a sketchbook, and afforded him a much wider range of textures, materials, and visual effects to render his subjects. Hockney said that the iPad “Takes it to a new level - simply because it's eight times the size of an iPhone, as big as a reasonably sized sketchbook.”

Untitled No.535 by David Hockney

Untitled No.535 © David Hockney 2009

3. Technology offers Hockney an unprecedented immediacy.

Hockney's digital drawings are the product of relatively recent technological advancement. Hockney himself has remarked that, not long ago, “the computer was too slow for a draughtsman. You had finished a line, and the computer was 15 seconds later ... but things have improved, and it now enables one to draw very freely and fast with colour”. With a simple tweak of an option on his iPad, Hockney had every colour, medium, and texture at his fingertips.

Green Valley by David Hockney

Green Valley © David Hockney 2008