Rare posters showcasing Hockney’s artistic evolution

From early etchings, and experimentations with coloured paper pulp, to his visionary polaroid collages, David Hockney’s work has always aimed to tell a story. We take a closer look at some of the latest rare posters to be released from our archive and the stories behind the artwork.

Los Angeles Olympic Games, 1984, David Hockney

An Etching and a Lithograph for Editions Alecto, 1973

To mark the 10 year anniversary of the print publisher Editions Alecto in 1973, Hockney collaborated with the team to produce this collotype poster. The year also marked 10 years since the young publishing house printed the artist’s collection of 16 etchings, titled ‘A Rake’s Progress’ – inspired by the work of William Hogarth.

Each set sold for £250, an amount that Hockney felt ashamed of, though it afforded him the ability to move to California for a year, where he would go on to create his iconically iridescent pool paintings.

Fittingly, Hockney created this poster using the same etching techniques and distinctive style of his limited editions a decade earlier – even down to the striking colour palette of black, white and red.

The rare poster features Hockney’s characterful handwriting, ‘an etching’ highlighted in a blaze of finely cross-hatched linework. Edition 752/2000, this collectible item bears Hockney’s signature and unique number on the plate. 

Piscines de Papier, 1980

Printed on luxurious heavy woven paper, this extremely rare poster was produced to promote Hockney’s book, ‘Piscines de Papier’ by publisher Editions Hercher. 

The book showcases the artist’s collection of pool paintings created in the summer of 1978, when he visited his friend Kenneth Tyler in New Bedford, upstate New York.

Tyler enthusiastically taught Hockney his innovative process of moulding and pressing coloured paper pulp, opening a new visual language for the artist. 

The painting featured on this poster, ‘Day Pool with three blues (Paper pool 7)’ is a wonderful example of Hockney’s success in portraying the iridescent water of the pools that he found so compelling in his new home of California.

Partially shaded by lush green hedges, light glimmers increasingly toward the foreground, under the sun yellow of the diving board.

‘Ian Swimming’, 1982

This remarkably rare poster featuring Hockney’s photo-collage, ‘Ian Swimming’, 1982, was commissioned by the Oakland Museum for their 1983 group exhibition, ‘In Colour: 10 California Photographers’. 

Hockney had often used a camera to help him compose his paintings, but he had long been averse to photography as an artform. That was until 1982, when he was invited to mount a show of his photographs at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Adopting the use of polaroids for their instant results, he was able to compose abstracted, stylised artworks that could portray different viewpoints within the same piece.

‘Ian Swimming’, 1982, is a beautiful example of this collection of work, and the continual exploration of his iconic Californian pools.

Harmoniously arranged, the photo-collage captures the movement of his subject in the lustrous blue water, conveying a sense of sound and motion more successfully than could be achieved in a single shot. 

Chelsea Arts Ball, 1992

Thrown by the Chelsea Arts Club, the Chelsea Art Ball has been held for over 100 years, and is famed for its wild fancy dress celebrations. With complete artistic licence, members created exquisite and outrageous costumes for the uninhibited annual celebrations.

The club’s 1958 NYE ball at the Royal Albert Hall became especially wild and saw the club banned from the venue with the exception of the years 1984, 1985 and 1992. A high society fundraiser on behalf of AIDS sufferers, the 1992 ball saw guest performances from The Count Bassie Orchestra, Pink Floyd, Elvis Costello, and Tom Jones.

This vibrant poster was created by Hockney for the historic event, and features his charming hand lettering. On 23 March 2022, the original painting from which this rare poster was reproduced sold at Christie’s for a staggering £56,700.

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