'The Wallet Begins to Empty' from  A Rake's Progress, 1961 - 1963,  Etching,  aquatint 19 1/2 x 24 1/2 . Edition of 50  ©

David Hockney

Drawn from the British Council Collection, an international exhibition of works from one of Britain's most successful artists presents four major suites of artists’ prints produced by David Hockney over a sixteen year period from 1961 - 1977: A Rake’s Progress; Illustrations for 14 Poems by C.P. Cavafy; Illustrations for Six Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm, and The Blue Guitar.

United by their reference to historical works of literature and art, the prints were produced during the first two decades of Hockney’s career when he established his international reputation as a Pop artist.

Hockney’s admiration for the poetry of C.P Cavafy, the Greek poet of Alexandria, inspired him to illustrate fourteen of Cavafy’s poems, capturing the sensuality of the original poetry with intimate drawings of his friends in London.

His attraction to the simple direct style of writing in the world famous fairy tales collected by the Brothers Grimm was to influence one of Hockney’s most ambitious printmaking projects, a series of eighty etchings illustrating six titles, thirty nine of which were published by Petersburg Press in 1970.

The final suite The Blue Guitar, 1977, was based on the poem The Man with the Blue Guitar by the American poet Wallace Stevens, who had in his time been inspired by Picasso. The series of twenty colourful etchings with their vast array of imagery and styles are an homage to the Spanish master.

The exhibition was enhanced by a display of works from the personal collection of the artist’s brother, John Hockney.

David Hockney: Words & Pictures premiered in Australia at the Tweed Regional Gallery in Murwillumbah and was shown at the Blue Mountains City Art Gallery in Katoomba, NSW.

About the British Council Collection

Since 1938 the British Council has been collecting works of art, craft and design to promote abroad the achievements of the UK's best artists, craft practitioners and designers abroad. The Collection began in the late 1930s, with a modest group of works on paper; and has now grown to a collection of more than 8,500 artworks, from paintings, prints and drawings, to photography, sculpture, multi-media and installations. The Collection has no permanent gallery and has been referred to as a 'museum without walls'. 

Artworks from the Collection are used in exhibition across the world as part of programmes developed by, or in collaboration with, the British Council. Others are on loan to major institutions and museums globally. Find out more about the Collection on our Visual Arts website.

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