Black Plant On Table (1986) is a signed print created from six sheets of acid-free paper, representing David Hockney’s fascination with the technology of photocopying. The work was executed on an office copy machine and belongs to Home Made Prints, a thematically diverse series of works, including Celia With Chair (1986), Man Reading Stendhal (1986) or Apples, Pears & Grapes (1986). Similar in theme and style to Dancing Flowers and Grey Blooms from the Home Made Prints series, the work consists of cut-out, patterned pieces of paper, thick, curved lines, layers of drawing and splashes of black-in dots. The elements are splattered across the print, yielding a startling visual design and unusual spatial dimensions in each of the six sheets. While the titular table is easily recognizable in the print thanks to the image of the wooden surface in one of the cutouts, Hockney’s rendition of the plant is deeply abstract, bringing to mind Henri Matisse’s flattened floral patterns.
The photocopier allowed Hockney to create images with greater efficiency and speed. He could use multiple sheets to create one overall image, change coloured ink cartridges, and easily reduce or enlarge images. The artist has said in the context of photocopying that inspired Home Made Prints: “In fact, this is the closest I’ve ever come in printing to what it’s like to paint: I can put something down, evaluate it, alter it, revise it, all in a matter of seconds.”