- David Hockney
- 'IMOGEN + HERMIANE. PEMBROKE STUDIOS, LONDON, 30TH JULY 1982'
- polaroid sx-70
London, Hayward Gallery, Hockney's Photographs, November 1983 – February 1984
Cologne, Photokina, Selections 4, October 1988, and traveling to 7 other venues through 1990 (see Appendix 1)
London, Tate Gallery and the Arts Council of Great Britain, David Hockney: A Retrospective, 1989
San Francisco, The Friends of Photography, Innovation/Imagination: 50 Years of Polaroid Photography, May - July 1999, and traveling to 11 other venues through 2007 (see Appendix 1)
Innovation/Imagination: 50 Years of Polaroid Photography (The Friends of Photography, 1999), p. 73
Lawrence Weschler, David Hockney: Cameraworks (New York, 1984), pl. 49
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The assemblage offered here is one of a number of compositions comprised of Polaroid SX-70 prints that were taken in David Hockney's Pembroke Studios in London in 1982. The sitters are the daughters of Paul Cornwall-Jones, owner of Petersburg Press, who published many Hockney-related works.
Hockney is one of the most influential contemporary artists to have explored, in practice and in words, the relationship between photography and painting. His long career in painting and the graphic arts has been interspersed at regular intervals with camera-based works, among them a published portfolio of photographs, photographic assemblages of SX-70s, and photographic collages of snapshots. In his writings and his lectures, Hockney has returned again and again to an exploration of the fundamental questions of vision: how one sees through the lens of the eye and through the lens of a camera; and, as a result, how time that is experienced in a painting or drawing differs from time experienced in a photograph.
Hockney's Polaroid SX-70 assemblages were one response to what he felt was the static quality of a single photograph. 'It's hard for me to look at a photograph for more than thirty seconds,' he once wrote. 'You get it very quickly, and when you look at it again it's exactly the same. These Polaroid portraits are different; there are so many relationships created by juxtaposing each photo, and the permutations of these relationships seem so numerous, that you can continue gazing at it, and seeing it in many different ways' (David Hockney Photographs, p. 26). Hockney has aligned his multiply-perceived reality with Cubism, an art which, he has observed, more truthfully reflects one's constantly-shifting perception of the world. In his Polaroid SX-70 compositions, and in his later collages of snapshots made with traditional cameras, the passage of time is created through the multiplicity of viewpoints in the assembled images.
The experience of creating SX-70 portraits in 1982 propelled Hockney into a new realm of thinking about photography and experimenting with cameras in a way that he had not previously. 'The reason I never took photography too seriously,' he wrote in that year, 'is because it was never vivid enough to give a true sense of the experience of reality. But these recent assemblages are so exciting that while I had intended to paint, I instead bought myself twelve thousand dollars worth of Polaroid film; it would be hard to do these without a Polaroid camera, because you must be able to quickly see the result of what you are doing in order to proceed with the picture' (ibid., p. 27).
Each of Hockney's SX-70 assemblages is unique, and rare in the marketplace. Unlike his later snapshot collages, the SX-70 portraits were never produced in multiple editions.