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Hockney’s sets

May 30, 2010

I would probably have spent longer thinking harder about David Hockney, were it not for the fact that he’s very much part of the scenery in my home town (and his), Bradford. A common outing with my primary school was to the Hockney galleries in Saltaire. I remember being interviewed in the gallery by a local news crew, when I was perhaps six or seven years old. The interviewer wanted to know what I liked about Hockney’s paintings. I told him that I liked “that dog”, referring to a couple of nearby dachshund portraits. The interviewer searched for elaboration, wanting to know whether I liked the colours, or the way the paintings made me feel, and I told him again and I told him straight that I liked that dog. I watched the news intently that evening, but my interview was not aired.

Anyway, to break my silence on Hockney, here’s what I currently like about him: his dashing appearance, as exhibited in the picture above, for one. (Apparently here he’s hanging about on the set of Ubu Roi in 1966, which is good enough for me, and perhaps makes for as meaningful an image of 1966 as anything featuring Bobby Moore or that Jagger character.) But what really struck me on a recent trip to Salt’s Mill, the West Yorkshire canal-side industrial megastructure turned gallery, furniture shop and centre for Bradford’s Hockney industry, were his opera sets. I managed to illegally photograph a few of these, which were reconstructed in a somewhat hidden space on the top floor of the mill.

This one’s from a production of The Rake’s Progress in 1975 that traced a nice line through twentieth century art: the original work from 1951 combining Stravinsky’s composition and Auden and Chester Kallman’s libretto, while Hockney’s sets subject Hogarth to a sinister side of pop.


And here’s The Magic Flute:

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. yeppy ketelbey permalink
    May 30, 2010 8:16 pm

    David Hockney stole Michael Nyman’s spectacles. Or maybe Michael Nyman stole David Hockney’s spectacles.

  2. May 31, 2010 2:50 pm

    A large part of our culture can well be understood as a long series of spectacle thefts.

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