We two Boys clinging Together
Oil on board
South Bank Centre, London, UK
An early work by Hockney, ‘We two Boys Together clinging’ shows no sign of the slick landscapes and carefully observed characters that he would later develop. However, it is one of his first works to address homoeroticism, an important theme in his work, in a composition that resembles a child’s drawing, two embraced figures share a kiss. Stylized block forms and scrawled words offer the viewer symbols as opposed to descriptions of the encounter. The erotic energy flowing between the two figures is represented by small horizontal lines of pigment running between the two. A swathe of sketchy of blue hints at a sense of place. The stylistic preference is indicative of the challenges of finding ways to represent forbidden feels at a time homosexual activity was still illegal both in the UK and in the USA making the representation of eroticism between two men unusual and potentially risky. The title of the piece is a direct quote from Walt Whitman, a master of homoerotic poetry and the image was inspired by newspaper headlines of a climbing accident that read ‘Two Boys Cling to Cliff All Night.’ The unintended double meaning amused Hockney, who had a crush on the British singer Cliff Richard. Sources of popular culture and classical poetry offered the artist a way to address same-sex relationships without caricature.
Pop Art, British Pop Art, School of London, Nouveau Réalisme, British Art
Born: 9 July 1937, Bradford, UK
Hockney’s bright swimming pools, suburban Californian landscapes, and split-level homes are a fusion of calmness and activity. Shadows seem to be banished from his acrylics of the 1960s producing images as slick as magazine pages. Flat planes co-exist with a patchwork of muddling distances. Hockney’s style incorporates a range of inspiration from Baroque to Cubism, and recently, computer aided graphics. He deliberately breaks every possible rule delighting in the deconstruction of proportion, perspective, and colour. His work shows that orthodoxies are there to shattered, allowing opposites to co-exist in a message that transcends art and makes a profound statement in the political and social realm