David Hockney (b. 1937)
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David Hockney (b. 1937)

A Table

David Hockney (b. 1937)
A Table
acrylic on canvas
60 x 60in. (152.4 x 152.4m.)
Painted in 1967
Kasmin Limited, London.
Acquired from the above by the father of the present owner in 1968.
David Hockney, Paintings, Prints and Drawings, 1960-1970, exh. cat., London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1970, no. 67.9 (illustrated, p. 71). N. Stangos (ed.). David Hockney by David Hockney, London 1976, no. 204 (illustrated, p. 168).
P. Clothier (ed.), David Hockney, New York 1995, no. 44 (illustrated, p. 44).
London, Kasmin Limited, David Hockney: a Splash, a Lawn, Two Rooms, Two Stains, Some Neat Cushions and a Table...Painted, January 1968 (illustrated, unpaged).
Paris, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Peintres Européens d'aujourd'hui, European Painters Today, September-November 1968. This exhibition later travelled to New York, The Jewish Museum, January-March 1969; Washington D.C., National Collection of Fine Arts, April-June 1969; Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, July-September 1969; Atlanta, High Art Museum, September-October 1969 and Dayton, Dayton Art Institute, November-December 1969.
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Writing about his 1967 painting, A Table, David Hockney explained: 'A Table is actually painted from the photograph in the Macy's advertisement I had used for The Room, Tarzana. The attraction of it was its simplicity' (D. Hockney, David Hockney by David Hockney, London, 1976, p. 149). There is a formal elegance to this painting, with the strangely geometric objects standing on the table; the table cloth recalls the curtains and especially theatre curtains that had featured in other works from this period, while the background, rendered in two tones of grey in order to capture the floor and the wall, appears almost Rothko-like. Certainly, during this period Hockney was experimenting with the colour-staining techniques of the later Abstract Expressionists, the Color-Field Painters. In this picture, Hockney appears to have bent some of their manipulations of acrylic to his own highly figurative purposes, creating an image that has a contemplative air.

Hockney was long tangentially associated with Pop, not least because of his frequent use of found images and photographs as source material. In A Table, he has emphasised the Pop credentials of this advertising image by creating a 'frame,' a light border reminiscent of Polaroid photography. This was a device that he had used in some of his celebrated swimming pool paintings of this period. A Table was actually painted on Hockney's return to Britain from California in 1967, and featured in an exhibition at the beginning of the following year, about which Hockney recounted:

'Then I painted A Table and Some Neat Cushions... I showed these paintings at Kasmin's in January 1968. All the exhibitions I'd had at Kasmin's I'd given a title. The first was called 'Pictures with People in' all the pictures had a figure. The second was called 'Pictures with frames and still-life pictures.' In this one I used the titles of the five paintings in it, and called it 'A splash, a lawn, two rooms, two stains, some neat cushions and a table... painted'' (ibid., p. 149).

Thus in terms of source, content, technique and even exhibition history, this seemingly innocent still life reveals Hockney's playful and versatile subversiveness.