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Eine (Part 1) P12459, Deux (Second Part) P12460 and Très (End of Triple) P12461 are three large-scale lithographic prints, each from an edition of thirty-five. The chronologically-themed titles of these three similar prints establish them as a sequence. In each print, an assemblage of pointed and curving planes massed tightly together suggests a single, abstracted, three-dimensional structure. Its planes are variously coloured with areas of blue, grey, brown, black and red. Some are embellished with spots or grids, creating the effect of a mosaic. The background of P12459 is pale blue and appears textured as if woven, but the backgrounds of P12460 and P12461 are of denser, more brilliant blues.
The geometric design of Eine (Part 1), Deux (Second Part) and Très (End of Triple) is reminiscent of Cubism, in terms of its angularity and because each image seems to offer multiple views of a single, complex form. Hockney’s interest in the work of Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) is long lasting, and linked to his rejection of conventional naturalism. Hockney has explained:
My dissatisfaction with naturalism and the depiction of naturalist fixed-point perspective space, and my work in the theatre, lead me to an increasing admiration for Picasso ... I had always had a great interest in Picasso, but I never quite knew how to deal with it – like most artists. He seemed too big and his forms were too idiosyncratic. How do you learn? How do you use them? ... One of the most important things, one of the most difficult things, is to learn not to be intimidated, not to be afraid of working through even his forms to find your own way of doing it.
(Quoted in Hockney, pp.101–2.)
Hockney’s career has been characterised by the variety of mediums and styles in which he has worked. In the late 1980s, he began producing ‘fax drawings’ using a facsimile machine to create and transmit images, principally seascapes, reduced to dense and curving, abstracted forms. During the same period he was painting landscapes in different styles. Often drawing on the scenic terrain near his home in Malibu, California, in these images Hockney used vivid colours, including brilliant blues, to accentuate the angularity of the environment, the curves and sharp edges of mountains and the waves of the ocean; see for example, The Sea at Malibu 1988 (reproduced in Hockney, fig.233, p.197). The visual effects created with Eine (Part 1), Deux (Second Part) and Très (End of Triple) are similar. The series of paintings that Hockney produced in spring 1991, although visually distinct from Eine (Part 1), Deux (Second Part) and Très (End of Triple), use forms and textures that are reminiscent of those found in the prints. The artist’s aim with paintings such as What About the Caves? 1991 (reproduced in Hockney, fig.321, p.223) was, he explained, to explore the representation of space: ‘they looked like abstractions, but are concerned with space as subject matter’ (Hockney, p.218).
David Hockney, That’s the Way I See It, ed. Nikos Stangos, London 1993.
Sean Rainbird, ed., Print Matters: The Kenneth E. Tyler Gift, exhibition catalogue, Tate Modern, London 2004.
Paul Melia and Ulrich Luckhardt, David Hockney, Munich 2007.