Hockney's early works are full of iconographic and stylistic experiment and of autobiographical allusions that often refer obliquely to the artist's homosexuality. In such works, the artist indicates the people he both admired and desired, often using initials or a simple number code in the manner of the American poet Walt Whitman. Hockney based many paintings on Whitman's work. This is the third of four 'Love' paintings which Hockney made in 1960 and 1961, while a student at the Royal College of Art. He numbered them in parody of the contemporary fashion for titling abstract paintings by number only.
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