Hockney's In the Dull Village

England, 1966

This print is by British artist David Hockney (born 1937) and shows two men lying in bed. It is an illustration for a poem by poet C.P. Cavafy (1863-1933), entitled 'In the Dull Village'.

It is part of a series of prints made by Hockney in 1966 to illustrate 14 of Cavafy’s poems. The series was subsequently published in book form.

C.P. Cavafy was born and lived in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, probably one of the most cosmopolitan cities of the Middle East in the early part of the twentieth century. He worked as a journalist and civil servant as well as publishing more than 150 poems. His verse often evoked the world of the Hellenistic Mediterranean with vivid recreations of ancient Alexandria, including erotic desire between men in both modern and ancient settings.

One of the earliest modern authors to write openly about same-sex love, Cavafy was introduced to an English-speaking audience by author EM Forster.

To David Hockney, a young artist growing up in Bradford during the 1950s, Cavafy’s poems evoked a world of steamy eroticism which fired the young artist to steal the copy of Cavafy’s poems from his local library.

Although Hockney visited Beirut in 1966 for inspiration, only two of the etchings from this series appear to attempt to capture the seamy Alexandria of Cavafy’s youth. The remaining etchings show boys slumbering under covers, just about to get into bed or provocatively staring out at the viewer and are clearly taken from Hockney’s own experiences of the homosexual life of London.

The works are not literal illustrations to Cavafy’s poems, rather they evoke the sensuality and eroticism of his writing.

Image: David Hockney, In the dull village, from illustrations for 14 poems from CP Cavafy, 1966/67. Etching. 22 1/2 by 15 1/2. © David Hockney / Editions Alecto

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Height: 35 cm
Width: 22.5 cm


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Hockney's In the
Dull Village

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