Still Making Waves; CATHERINE JONES Previews David Hockney at the Walker
Byline: CATHERINE JONES
TODAY he's an elder statesman of the British arts scene. But half a century ago, David Hockney was one of the brightest of art's bright young things.
While he'd made plenty of waves in the art world from his emergence from the Royal College of Art onwards, it was his winning of the John Moores Prize in 1967 - with his painting Peter Getting out of Nick's Pool - which created, in Hockney-ese, 'a bigger splash'.
"It really put him up a notch," says Ann Bukantas, National Museums Liverpool's head of fine art, and curator of the Walker's new exhibition David Hockney: Early Reflections.
"It was kind of like the rubber stamp that he deserved for his career at that point. And it's the picture everybody knows as a result of that. We mustn't underestimate it."
Peter Getting out of Nick's Pool forms a core part of the gallery's show which opens next Friday and which features almost 40 pieces of Hockney's early work, created between 1960 and 1978.
The idea for the exhibition came from the Walker's partnership with the Arts Council Collection, although initially plans were rather more modest.
"I'd always been quite keen, even before the partnership became more formal, to bring at least one of the Arts Council Collection's major paintings in on loan," explains Ann. "Partly to show the contrast with our Hockney.
"And as the partnership developed, I started thinking well, maybe we could widen the basis of the show and bring in a selection of Hockney works."
Four themes have been created on the back of the final line-up of works which have come from NML, the Arts Council Collection, and a number of other lenders including the Cartwright Hall of Art in Hockney's native Bradford which has loaned the massive, 3D-style Le Plongeur.
The first theme, In the Mood for Love, looks at some of the major early paintings Hockney produced at the Royal College where, Ann says, he was "trying to find his artistic vocabulary" and increasingly expressing his homosexuality through his art. …