David Hockney, 28th February 2021, Roses in a Blue Vase, iPad painting printed on paper, edition of 50, 89 x 63.5 cm (35 x 25 Inches) © David Hockney


20 Flowers and Some Bigger Pictures

By David Hockney

Published Thursday, Jan 12, 2023

This essay is taken from David Hockney: 20 Flowers and Some Bigger Pictures, a new catalogue published by Pace, GRAY, Galerie Lelong & Co., Annely Juda Fine Art, and L.A. Louver on the occasion of the exhibition 20 Flowers and Some Bigger Pictures.

I started these flowers in February 2021, after finishing my scroll of a year in Normandie. I was just sitting at the table in our house and I caught sight of some flowers in a vase on the table. Being February the sun was low casting a deep shadow on the table. I decided to draw it, the background was dark so I made a rich brown for it. After printing it I put it on the far wall facing the table. There it stayed for a few days. It looked very beautiful to me. Other people commented on it, it seemed to jump off the wall.

A few days later I started another from the same position with the same ceramic vase, this took longer to do. I then realised if I put the flowers in a glass vase the sun would catch the water and painting glass would be a more interesting thing to do. So then I was off. The flowers were not from the garden, there aren’t many in February, they came from a florist in Dozulé. JP ordered them telling the florist to use color as a guide. I had done quite a few, after all it was very cold outside and I could work indoors more comfortably. When I had done about 12, I then thought they might be good to put in the German newspaper that had been asking me about doing something for them for a few years. I had ignored their requests because I had no idea what to do for them, but now I had something. I made 20 of them, all different. Then they told us they needed 24, but I had already started working outside with the spring starting its joyful journey. So for the newspaper Die Welt we published the 20 flowers and then four of the spring.

I still had a few on our wall in the house, then we visited Marin, the paint and canvas dealer in Paris where I was ordering some canvases. Philippe Marin was showing us around the workshops, when he suddenly pulled out some carved wooden frames, he gave us one each telling us they were very unfashionable. They looked startling because the frames were very hand done in an old way and my pictures were also hand done in a new way, the iPad. Eventually we bought all the frames he had and put the flowers in them.

This is how they were exhibited at the Matisse Museum in Nice.

Unfortunately they were all he had, so for this exhibition it had to be plain frames.

We did make a picture of all the carved frames on the wall with me twice looking at them. This is photographic but is in no way an ordinary photograph. I had been doing what I called photographic drawings giving a much more 3D effect. This is because you have to look at these through time (unlike an ordinary photograph which you see all at once) I think the flowers also have this quality. Ironically the only things not photographed in this picture are the flowers themselves.

Today there are many new printing mediums that have some qualities which seem to fit the iPad perfectly. Ink jet printing leaves some real pigment on the surface. Other printing cannot do this. It leaves only a thin film of colour. All books are printed this way, they have to be because of speed. Ink jet printing takes time to do, so at the moment no books can be printed this way.

The objects on the floor are all photographed in 3D, one walks round the object and then the computer makes an image that can be turned any way you want, this is why I called them photographic drawings. You can place them anywhere in the picture, so I think it’s a new kind of photography that avoids perspective. I am continuing with this research.

The other pictures in this show are multiple iPad pictures, two using three pads, one using six, two using eight and finally one using twelve. This offers more possibilities than one does for reasons that are obvious but to do them took time.

The one of the river I started with 4 and then walked along it. I know it’s an unusual picture because there are not that many made this way. I think it’s what we need today. New looking fresh pictures of a very beautiful world.

  • Essays — David Hockney on 20 Flowers and Some Bigger Pictures, Jan 12, 2023