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Largest and most colourful lithographs ever made by David Hockney at Alan Cristea Gallery
David Hockney, View of Hotel Well I, 1984-5. Lithograph in frame designed by the artist. Frame: 79.4 x 105.4 cm. Edition of 75. Photo: Courtesy of Alan Cristea Gallery.

LONDON.- The Alan Cristea Gallery, Cork Street W1, will today unveil an exhibition of David Hockney’s largest and most colourful lithographs in an exhibition entitled ‘Moving Focus. A focal point of this free exhibition will be two views of the ‘Hotel Acatlán’ which the artist discovered when car trouble forced him to stop in the midst of a journey to Mexico City. Taking place from19 January until 18 February 2012 in the gallery’s space at No. 34 Cork Street, the exhibition is timed to coincide with the Royal Academy’s major new show of landscape works by Hockney, and is one of a number of art exhibitions and auctions celebrating the work of one of Britain’s best loved artists to take place this month.

In the mid-1970s, shortly after moving to California, David Hockney began his working relationship with master printer Kenneth Tyler. It was with Tyler, that Hockney created the Moving Focus series, which remains his largest and most ambitious series of colour lithographs. The series combines the Renaissance tradition of fixed-viewpoint painting with the Eastern aesthetic of multiple, narrative viewpoints within the same picture. The acknowledgement of the flatness of picture plane along with the exaggeration of perspective and foreshortening present in Tyler Dining Room, Amaryllis in Vase, Pembroke Studio Interior and, most didactically, The Perspective Lesson underscore Hockney’s questioning of the traditional western values in composition.

Hockney made the two Hotel prints featured in this exhibition after discovering the hotel Acatlán’ when car trouble forced him to stop en route to Mexico City. Hotel : Acatlán Second Day is based on sketches made of the hotel courtyard shortly after his arrival. Further sketches made when he revisited the hotel on the return leg of his journey resulted in Hotel Acatlán : Two Weeks Later. The figure in the lower right corner of this print refers to his 1954 portrait of his mother, Woman with a Sewing Machine.

The Hotel Acatlán also provided the subject matter for the three View of Hotel Well lithographs hanging in the exhibition, each one providing a different viewpoint of the central feature of the courtyard. The sense of distorted perspective is here enhanced by the skewed, hand-painted frames designed by Hockney himself.

David Hockney was born in 1937 in Bradford, where he studied at the Bradford School of Art before going on to graduate from the Royal College of Art in 1962. He was elected to the Royal Academy of Arts in 1991 and made a Companion of Honour in 1997. He was awarded an Order of Merit in this year’s New Year Honours list. Hockney is generally acknowledged to be one of the most important and influential artists working today and his paintings, prints and drawings have been the subject of numerous retrospectives at almost every major international museum. Examples of his work are held in most international public collections, and works from the Moving Focus series can be found in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Tate Collection, the National Gallery of Australia, the Government Art Collection, the Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis and the Smithsonian Museum, Washington DC amongst others.

Throughout his career, Hockney has been a gifted and prolific printmaker and some of his most iconic images have been realised in various print media. Alan Cristea Gallery always holds a wide and ever-changing selection of his prints in stock.

A Mixed Exhibition, including etchings and lithographs by Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, will be staged in the gallery space at No. 31 Cork Street to coincide with David Hockney: Moving Focus. Lithography, a method for printing using a stone or metal plate, was a medium which fascinated Picasso; During the 20th century, a group of celebrated artists including Chagall, Matisse, Miro and Picasso rediscovered the largely unexplored art form of lithography, thanks to the Mourlot Studios, a Parisian print-shop founded in 1852 by the Mourlot Family, which was transformed when the founder’s grandson, Fernand, invited a number of leading artists of the day to explore the complexities of fine art printing During the war Picasso had been starved of the associations so necessary to him with fellow artists, poets and craftsmen and one can speculate that the opportunity of renewing a daily relationship with a master printer was of great personal and professional appeal to him. Picasso made numerous single images during these years but, in most cases, he would develop and transform a theme through many stages of a stone or plate. One such example is Les deux Femmes nues, 1945, of which 6 different states are showcased in this exhibition.

Printmaking came in sporadic bursts throughout Matisse’s career, at different times in his life he became completely absorbed by one method or another. He had made a handful of aquatints in the 1930s but significantly these images consisted on a white line on a black background. In 1946 he became more seriously involved with the medium. With the help of the Crommelynck brothers, he reversed the process, painting freely with a brush dipped in China ink on prepared metal plates. Matisse eschews the female body in favour of just the face, the subtle tones provided by chine collé are discarded in favour of rich black against pure white, as can be seen in Jeune étudiant de trois-quarts, an aquatint from1952. Their origins can be traced back to Eskimo sculpture or African masks, but, more importantly, they constitute the culmination of a lifetime of striving to create the most direct, simple and compelling mark. This exhibition will also feature a number of exciting works by Richard Hamilton, Julian Opie, Joe Tilson and Andy Warhol among others.

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