A few weeks ago when we discovered the Manchester’s Gallery of Costume opened at one midweek we toddled down Oxford Road to The Whitworth Art Gallery. Currently showing is David’s Hockney’s entire print series A Rake’s Progress (1961-1963), which has recently been presented to the gallery. It joins William Hogarth’s 18th Century series of the same title.
Hockney’s story focuses on his first trip to New York in 1961 and the impact it had on him as a young, gay, northern art student. His story touches on what it was like to be a young British man visiting the States, at a time when transatlantic travel wasn’t as commonplace as it is now and attitudes to homosexuality in the early 60’s. My friend and I wondered what it was like for him, the feelings he had touching down in New York fifty one years ago and discovering a whole new world. It must have been very exciting and liberating.
Also on display in the gallery are a series of drawings Hockney made when he was a teenager in Bradford. My friend and I thought he was a very skilled artist from an early age, there is a self portrait and a sketch of people working in his local chippy. It tied in nicely with the book I had just got from the library, Hockney A Rake’s Progress by Christopher Simon Sykes, which is a very readable and detailed insight into the David Hockney’s life and work until 1975. It touches not only on his work but his family life, hopes, dreams and struggles as an artist and young man.
Hockney to Hogarth A Rake’s Progress at Whitworth Art Gallery, Oxford Road, Manchester until 3rd February 2013
Image: David Hockney A Rake’s Progress, Plate 8a: Bedlam 1961-1963 Whitworth Art Gallery, The University of Manchester © David Hockney