David Hockney – Six Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm

1 July 2014

David Hockney was born in Bradford in 1937 and is the most successful artists of his generation. In 1969 he embarked on a series of 39 etchings inspired by the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales. They are now considered to be one of his finest bodies of work.

 Grimm’s Fairy Tales Book

Peter Webb wrote ‘Hockney began working on etchings for Grimm’s Fairy Tales in the late sixties. He had made some experimental prints inspired by ‘Rumpelstiltskin’ in 1961 and 1962 and now wanted to make a whole suite. He loved the stories and had read all 220 of them over the years. He eventually chose twelve stories but only did engravings for six.

Hockey’s Illustrations of Tales

Hockney loved the directness of the language of the Grimm brothers and the elements of magic in the tales, and his illustrations to each of his chosen six focuses on his imaginative response to descriptions in the text rather than the more usual fashion of concentrating on the most important events in the narrative. For instance, he chose Old Rinkrank because it starts with the words A king built a glass mountain, and he was fascinated by the problem of drawing a glass mountain. In one of the most disturbing stories, The boy who left home to learn fear, Hockney interprets the description of the sexton disguised as a ghost standing still as stone as a tall rock surrounded by stones, recalling Magritte’s paintings of ordinary objects made out of stone.

Work was Engraved on Copper Plates

The work of engraving the copper plates was carried out by Hockney with his assistant Maurice Payne on special tables set up in the Powys Terrace studio. The acid baths were kept on the balcony outside, because otherwise the fumes would have filled the whole flat. The finished etchings formed a more complex project than anything he had attempted before. His new technique of cross-hatching instead of using aquatint achieves a much richer range of tones. The fairy tale illustrations show an extraordinary range of imagery including portraiture, landscapes, architecture, imaginative compositions and pure inventions.

Hockney’s images are exuberant, inventive and memorable, and he now considers them to be one of his major successes’.

We are pleased to have just acquired the complete set including a number of signed works. Framed prices from £350 to £2950.

Click here to view David Hockney etchings.