Figure By A Curtain by David Hockney

Hockney And The Stage David Hockney

Find out more about David Hockney’s theatre and opera print series, browse prints & editions for sale & view the works wanted by active buyers right now.

In 1975 Hockney was invited to design sets and costumes for a performance of Stravinksy’s opera of The Rake’s Progress at Glyndebourne. Just 12 years earlier he had produced what has become one of his most famous series of prints, based on the original set by Hogarth. This was not the beginning of his fascination with the stage however; since the 1960s he had been producing prints and paintings inspired by the world of the theatre, including the famous Figure by a Curtain of 1964 – based on the 1963 painting Play within a Play – which features his friend and dealer John Kasmin in front of a curtain, trapped, as Hockney put it, “in this small space between art and life”, to the etching from the same year entitled The Acrobat, which shows a figure stood on a horse moving towards a flaming hoop in an apparent recreation of a circus scene.

In the ’80s Hockney continued to work across the medium of print to produce posters for the Metropolitan Opera in New York, including his print for composer Eric Satie’s Parade. Throughout this series the motif of the curtain is recurrent. Presenting an opportunity to explore the boundaries between picture and plane, background and foreground, the artist was fascinated with the possibilities of trompe l’oeil to affect the perspective of the composition and the viewer’s perception of the subject. Here the stage too becomes the perfect setting for the arrangement of elements in space, offering a border to work within, an artificial enclosure as fruitful for Hockney as his swimming pools or his trompe l’oeil frames in the series entitled A Hollywood Collection.

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