David Hockney

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

1961

Not on display

Artist
David Hockney born 1937
Medium
Etching and aquatint on paper
Dimensions
Image: 405 × 497 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Jonathan Cheshire and Gareth Marshallsea in memory of Peter Coni 1994
Reference
P11377

Summary

Hockney's early graphic works, made both while he was a student and shortly after he left the Royal College of Art in the early 1960s, laid the foundations for all his subsequent work. The earliest of these works are full of iconographic and stylistic experiment and of autobiographical allusions that often refer obliquely to the artist's homosexuality.

The quotations contained in this etching are taken from two homoerotic poems by C.P. Cavafy, 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' and 'The Mirror at the Entrance'. Hockney explained that 'the idea of making a mirror have feelings is a wonderful poetic idea that strongly appeals to me' (Stangos, p.64). Other works by Hockney which contain references to Cavafy's writings include A Grand Procession of Dignitaries in the Semi-Egyptian Style, 1961 (private collection) and his major series of etchings, Illustrations for Fourteen Poems from C.P. Cavafy, 1966 (Tate Gallery P77563-77575).

Further reading:
Nikos Stangos (ed.), David Hockney by David Hockney, London 1976, pp.14, 64, 65, reproduced p.57

Terry Riggs
November 1997

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Display caption

The quotations in this print are from Snow White, the nineteenth-century fairytale by the Brothers Grimm, and The Mirror in the Entrance 1930 by the Greek poet CP Cavafy. Several of Hockney‘s works are inspired by Cavafy’s writing. He is particularly drawn to the poet’s explorations of male beauty and same-sex love, which appear the primary inspiration for this print. On his choice of quotation from Cavafy’s poem, Hockney explained that 'making a mirror have feelings is a wonderful poetic idea that strongly appeals to me'.

Gallery label, August 2021

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