Thursday, 5 April 2012

Doll Boy Doll

Artist David Hockney used to have a bit of a thing about Cliff Richard, so much so, in fact, that when he saw a headline about a seaside rescue with the headline 'Two Boys Cling To Cliff All Night Long', it sent him into a paroxysm of erotic longing. Always the Artist, he took this fantasy and combined it with a Walt Whitman poem('We two boys together clinging, one the other never leaving') and painted 'We Two Boys Together Clinging' (1961).

Hockney is a brilliant draughtsman, of course, so the naive, childlike style is quite deliberate. Part Pop Art, part abstraction, the painting seems raw and spontaneous, full of excitement and emotion. I particularly like the myriad threads joining the bodies, proof that this is not simply about a physical connection. The '4.2' is code for the letters D and B, which stand for 'Doll Boy', Hockney's affectionate and admiring nickname for the erstwhile Harry Webb.

Hockney's painting 'Doll Boy' (also 1961) doesn't really look like Cliff, perhaps because the artist thought it indiscreet and ill-advised to write the word 'queen' under a portrait of his idol. Again, it's an outburst of feeling, in this case, Hockney's desire to tell the world about what excites him - boys, love, sex, music, circus tents...3.18 is more code - for C.R, of course. Bless.

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