The theme of the 'Love' paintings is loving relationships between individuals, real and imaginary. In The Third Love Painting, a dominant pink phallic shape is surrounded by scribbled phrases taken from the lavatory walls of the Earl's Court Underground station - such lines as 'ring me anytime at home' and 'come on david admit it'. The addition of the closing lines from Whitman's 1860 poem 'When I Heard at the Close of the Day' provides a contrast between dignified, sublimated love and illicit couplings. The poem concludes: 'For the one I love most lay sleeping by me under the same cover in the cool night, | In the stillness in the autumn moonbeams his face was inclined toward me, | And his arm lay lightly round my breast - and that night I was happy.'
Stylistically, these paintings show Hockney's interest at the time in the work of Dubuffet, and combine abstract passages and thickly applied paint with figurative images and graffiti-like writing. Hockney intended that the writing would force people to come up close to examine the canvas and read it, like graffiti on a wall.
Nikos Stangos (ed.), David Hockney by David Hockney, London 1976, pp.12, 44, 62, reproduced p.25 in colour