David Hockney, ‘Kaisarion with all his Beauty’, 1961, Christie's

Signed and dated in pencil, from the edition of approximately fifty impressions, printed by Ron Fuller and Peter Mathews at the Royal College of Art, London, the full sheet, with deckle edges on three sides, pale mount staining, otherwise in very good condition, framed
Plate 495 x 280 mm., Sheet 573 x 392 mm.

From the Catalogue:
Lines of poetry he [Hockney] likes provide shots in the arm for him as an artist. He knows them by heart. They write their way into his blood and they stimulate his work... Lines taken from a poem of Cavafy, 'Kaisarion with all his beauty' produce imagery of free association in Hockney's mind: the boy with hyacinthine locks, a helmeted face in profile like that on a Greek coin - modern stereotypes which are kind of a humorous comment on Greek classical art filtered down to us through coins, postage stamps and advertising, and yet haunted with some strange erotic feeling.' (Stephen Spender, 'David Hockney and Poetry', in: Hockney & Poetry, Michael Parkin Fine Art, exh. cat., London, 1982).

This early etching was made while Hockney was still a student at the Royal College of Art. It takes its title and inspiration from the poem Alexandrian Kings by Constantine P. Cavafy:

Kaisarion was standing a little forward/ dressed in pink tinted silk/ on his dress a garland of hyacinths/ his belt a double row of sapphires and amethysts/ his shoes were tied with white ribbons/ embroidered with rose coloured pearls/… Kaisarion with all his beauty

Cavafy and Whitman, who both wrote elegiac verse about homosexual desire, were important sources for Hockney, as he was starting to address his own sexuality in his art.

On his first trip to New York in June 1961, Hockney was encouraged by the dealer Robert Erskine to take a sample of his graphic work to William Lieberman (1924-2005), then curator of the Department of Prints and Drawings at MoMA. Lieberman bought an impression of Kaisarion with all his beauty, as well as several other prints. Hockney later recalled: 'I got two hundred dollars, which was a lot of money for me, and I bought a suit, an American suit, and bleached my hair’ (David Hockney by David Hockney, 1976, Thames & Hudson, London, p. 65).
—Courtesy of Christie's

Christie's Special Notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

Scottish Arts Council 8; Tokyo 8

About David Hockney

A pioneer of the British Pop Art movement in the early 1960s alongside Richard Hamilton, David Hockney gained recognition for his semi-abstract paintings on the theme of homosexual love before it was decriminalized in England in 1967. In We Two Boys Clinging Together (1961), red-painted couples embrace one other while floating amidst fragments from a Walt Whitman poem. After moving to California at the end of 1963, Hockney began painting scenes of the sensual and uninhibited life of athletic young men, depicting swimming pools, palm trees, and perpetual sunshine. Experimenting with photography in the mid-1970s, Hockney went on to create his famous photocollages with Polaroids and snapshot prints arranged in a grid formation, pushing the two-dimensionality of photography to the limit, fragmenting the monocular vision of the camera and activating the viewer in the process. A versatile artist, Hockney has produced work in almost every medium—including full-scale opera set designs, prints, and drawings using cutting-edge technology such as fax machines, laser photocopiers, computers, and even iPhones and iPads.

British, b. 1937, Bradford, United Kingdom, based in Yorkshire, United Kingdom