M. Knoedler & Co Inc., New York
Davis & Long Company, New York
Robert Miller Gallery Inc., New York
Annely Juda Fine Art, London
Diane Gilson Gallery, Seattle, Washington
Private Collection, Northern California, 1978
Minneapolis, Dayton’s Gallery 12, David Hockney: Drawings, October – November 1974, touring to:
Los Angeles, Margo Leavin Gallery
New York, Davis & Long Company, American–English Paintings,Watercolors and Drawings, 9 November – 3 December 1977, cat no.39
ed. Nikos Stangos, David Hockney by David Hockney, Thames and Hudson, London, 1976, p.223, cat no. 294, illus b/w
1970 was an extremely productive year for Hockney, he had his first retrospective, David Hockney: Paintings, Prints and Drawings 1960–1970 at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London, began work on his now famous portrait, Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy, (Tate Gallery, London) and was commissioned to paint a portrait of Sir David Webster for the Royal Opera House, London.
Hockney travelled extensively in this year, spending part of every month abroad. In August 1970, he chose the picturesque commune of Carennac as his destination. He was joined, as is evident from the resulting drawings, by several of his 'entourage' including his lover at the time Peter Schlessinger and Mo McDermott. McDermott, also an artist, was Hockney’s assistant during the late sixties and early seventies after they met in 1962 and has been described as one of his most loyal companions. He features heavily in Jack Hazan’s 1970 feature film on the artist A Bigger Splash and introduced Hockney to Celia Birtwell, his muse and the iconic fashion and textile designer.
From the beginning of 1966 Hockney spent twelve years painting portraits, many of them featuring two people, friends or relations, just under life size. This reorientation in Hockney’s practice necessitated a shift in his work as a draughtsman and in 1965 he began an intensive course in drawing using pen and ink, a rare choice for a modern artist. By the end of the sixties he had become extremely proficient in this medium, introducing tonal subtleties into his portraits. In many ways, the formal aspect of drawing was Hockney's favoured form in his art, ‘I mean if you want to work in line I think that it is the loveliest medium of all.’ ('David Hockney: An Interview (with Mark Glazebrook)' in David Hockney, Paintings, Prints and Drawings 1960-1970, Whitechapel Art Gallery exhibition catalogue, 1970, p12)
However, the task of working in ink is also an extremely laborious one which takes a great deal of precision and time, as Hockney explained, ‘I never talk when I am drawing a person, especially if I’m making line drawings. I prefer there to be no noise at all so I can concentrate more. You can’t make a line too slowly, you have to go at a certain speed; so the concentration needed is quite strong. It’s very tiring as well. If you make two or three line drawings, it's very tiring in the head, because you have to do it all at one go, something you’ve no need to do with pencil drawings…Its exciting doing it, and I think it's harder than anything else; so when they succeed, they’re much better drawings, often.’ (Nikos Stangos, David Hockney by David Hockney, My Early Years, Thames and Hudson, London, 1976, p.158)
Hockney made many drawings of Mo throughout his career. Like many of his portraits from the seventies, this is an intimate and sensitive portrayal of a close friend, a snapshot of the artist's everyday life. It is also an example of Hockney's sophisticated draughtsmanship and an indication of the formal tasks he continued to set himself. As the quote above reveals, the delight that Hockney took in these finished works, and his predilection for working in line, was in part due to the challenge that he found in their creation.