Dogs David Hockney
Find out more about David Hockney’s Dogs series, browse prints & editions for sale & view the works wanted by active buyers right now.
Hockney first started drawing dogs in 1987 when he adopted his first pair of dachshunds. What began as a casual drawing exercise soon became a series of tender portraits that are now an important part of his oeuvre.
In 1995 Hockney took this practice one step further and began painting his dogs, in reaction to the grief he felt over the death of Henry Geldzahler and many other close friends he lost to the AIDS crisis of the preceding years. Speaking of this turn in his work Hockey said, “I wanted desperately to paint something loving. … I felt such a loss of love I wanted to deal with it in some way. I realized I was painting my best friends, Stanley and Boodgie. They sleep with me; I’m always with them here. They don’t go anywhere without me and only occasionally do I leave them. They’re like little people to me. The subject wasn’t dogs but my love of the little creatures.” At this time Hockney also began experimenting with etching and using aquatint to create multiples of his dog paintings which culminated in pieces such as Horizontal Dogs.
In 1998 Hockney set up a dedicated print studio in his Hollywood Hills home. Here, he collaborated with his friend Maurice Payne, who would prepare the plates for Hockney to draw directly onto in order to recreate the spontaneity of his original dog drawings. The prints from this series tend to show Hockney’s beloved dachshunds, Stanley and Boodgie, on a cushion that also works as a framing device for the composition. They are often shown asleep (the only time when Hockney could get them to sit still for a portrait) and are rendered in soft cross hatched marks that convey their wiry fur and classic dachshund form. Rendered in monochrome they represent a subtle counterpoint to the vibrancy of the earlier painting series. Works from this series are collected, along with earlier paintings and drawings, in the book David Hockney’s Dog Days which was published in 1998.
Hockney was not alone in his love of dachshunds as companions and subjects. Both Warhol and Picasso before him had pet sausage dogs and produced drawings and prints of the delightful creatures. Picasso’s dog, Lump (the German word for ‘rascal’), lived with him at his villa in the south of France and was immortalised in a famous sketch entitled Dog which reduces Lump to just one continuous line. Warhol’s dogs, Archie and Amos, were the subject of a number of the artist’s signature screen prints and became almost as famous as his cats.
Today Hockney’s Dogs series is almost as beloved as the artist himself and prints from this period of his career are highly sought after by dog lovers as well as dedicated collectors. Representing friendship and grief they are tender portraits that show the artist’s mastery of print techniques through the most adorable of subjects.
Why is the Dogs series so important?
These images of canine domesticity are among some of the most intimate of Hockney’s work and represent an important point in the artist’s life and work. While searching for a way to mourn the death of close friends Hockney produced a body of work that has become an instant classic.
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