The show includes a number of distinct series—card players; portraits; interior scenes—each of which reflects Hockney’s various experiments with perspective. He began his investigations with understated paintings of a handful of his friends playing cards. In them, three to four men sit on chairs and benches around a trapezoidal table, focused on the game at hand. The shorter end of the table is positioned closer to the viewer, in the foreground of the compositions. Its longer end may be seen in the background.
By positioning the table in this way, Hockney cleverly reverses the traditional manner in which artists create the illusion of perspective. Normally, the vanishing point (in this case, the table’s shorter end) appears in the background, fostering a sense of depth and recession. By flipping this arrangement, he pushes everything in his paintings into the foreground—and out into the viewer’s space.