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David Hockney


The Blue Guitar

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In the summer of 1976, Hockney became captivated with Wallace Stevens’s book-length poem The Man with the Blue Guitar (1937) while holidaying on Fire Island with the curator Henry Geldzahler and writer Christopher Isherwood. Over the following year, Hockney created 10 drawings and 20 prints inspired by the poem, which had itself been inspired by Pablo Picasso’s famous painting The Old Guitarist (1903–04). “The etchings themselves weren’t conceived as literal illustrations of the poem, but as an interpretation of its themes in visual terms,” Hockney said. “Like the poem, they’re about transformations within art as well as the relation between reality and the imagination, so they are pictures within pictures and different styles of representation.” Prints in this series—which are featured in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Museum of Modern Art—are filled with visual …

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