Magazine article Tate Etc.

Hockney's Double Portraits

Magazine article Tate Etc.

Hockney's Double Portraits

Article excerpt

David Hockney began a double portrait of the dancer and his then partner in 1972, abandoning the painting a year later. He resumed working on it briefly in 1975, but it remained unfinished. Tate Etc. met with Sleep and Lawson at the launch of Hockney's Double Portraits, a display at Tate Britain that brings together this and two other of his paintings from the Tate collection.

Wayne Sleep I first met David in 1967 when he was smuggled in to draw the Royal Ballet in rehearsal. He said he'd love to draw me. We just clicked and soon became the best of mates. David introduced George and I. David and I went to Gloucester Place, where David's gallerist John Kasmin had a big flat in a Regency house. George was there too, he already knew Kasmin.

When I first saw him I thought: 'Who's that old man in the corner?' He was only 26 back then, but he's never looked any different.

The portrait went through so many stages. I've got so many pictures of George standing in front of me, being moved to the side, being turned into a cut-out, and David moving me. To be honest, I got a bit fed up with the whole process. There was no end in sight, but I suppose if you're creating something, you never say it's finished while you're working on it.

George Lawson The painting is set in my little, tiny flat in Wigmore Place. According to Wayne, I'm playing an A-flat on the clavichord I'm sitting beside - I wanted to call the painting A Flat, you see - but now I can see perfectly well that it's a G.

I would play this note when I was sitting for the portrait. …

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