David Hockney Third Detail Snails Space Colored inkjet print on cardboard 1995

Snails Space David Hockney

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In 1995, world-renowned and much-loved British artist David Hockney created an installation entitled Snails Space With Vari-Lites (1995-1996). The large-scale piece was exhibited at Washington D.C.’s Smithsonian Museum in the same year. The signed print series Snails Space captures the individual details of this mixed media installation piece, a striking and remarkably unique element of Hockney’s wider œuvre that makes an extended use of abstraction.

Comprising oil on two canvases, acrylic paints on canvas-covered Masonite and wood dowels, Snails Space With Vari-Lites makes use of Vari-Lite automated lighting systems, used extensively by touring musical groups, theatrical shows, and television and film studios. Hockney’s incorporation of this lighting technology into the artwork recalls his extensive involvement in theatre during the 1970s and ’80s, and a long fascination with the stage – a subject which Hockney had been experimenting with in his art well before his time spent working as the costume and stage designer for performances at the Metropolitan Opera, New York in 1981. Indeed, Snails Space harks all the way back to Hockney’s design production work for a showing of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress at the Glyndebourne Festival in 1975, as assembled in the print series Hockney And The Stage.

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