Study from Parade Triple Bill

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  • Provenance

    André Emmerich Gallery, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner on March 24, 1981

  • Exhibited

    New York, André Emmerich Gallery; London, Riverside Studios (no. 120, p. 9), David Hockney: Paintings and Drawings for the Metropolitan Opera's "Parade": A French Triple Bill, March 26 - June 7, 1981; then traveled as Paris, Galerie Claude Bernard, David Hockney: Peintures, Gouaches et Crayons de Couleurs pour les Décors et Costumes de Les Mamelles de Tirésias, L'enfant el les Sortilèges, Parade, June 17 - August 1, 1981
    Minneapolis, Walker Art Center; Toronto, Art Gallery of Ontario; Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art; The Fort Worth Art Museum; San Francisco Museum of Art, Hockney Paints the Stage, November 20, 1983 - May 26, 1985, p. 59 (illustrated in the artist's home); then traveled as Mexico City, Museo Tamayo, El gran teatro de David Hockney, February 19 - April 15, 1984

  • Literature

    Peter Webb, Portrait of David Hockney, London, 1988, p. 189

  • Catalogue Essay

    David Hockney’s Study from Parade Triple Bill, 1980 depicts a theatrical stage scene, throwing the viewer headlong into a range of cultural references. Composers Erik Satie and Francis Poulenc are named on the wings towering above the composer silhouetted against orchestra lights, while the palpable spirit of Pablo Picasso is captured in the myriad forms that punctuate the stage. These allusions are apt given that Study from Parade Triple Bill relates to the 1981 revival of the titular 1916-1917 ballet, which had been scored by Satie, performed by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, and featured costumes and set design by Picasso himself.

    Hockney had worked on stage design several times throughout his career, beginning with a production of Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi at the Royal Court, London in 1966, and subsequently working with the opera at Glyndebourne. He was therefore a natural choice for John Dexter, the Director of Productions at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. Tasked with injecting new life into the institution, Dexter made the controversial decision to stage a triple bill—a supposed kiss of death in opera—with the reprisal of Parade, choreographed by Rudolf Nureyev, to be shown alongside Les Mamelles de Tirésias, written by Guillaume Apollinaire and scored by Poulenc, and L’enfant et les Sortilèges, composed by Maurice Ravel with the novella by Colette. Satie’s earlier debut of Parade in 1917 remained a benchmark of creative theatre, not least because of Picasso’s involvement. Rather than approach the subject matter anew, Hockney embraced this heady cultural legacy. Hockney’s Parade openly recognizes the legacy of but does not pay slavish homage to Picasso, referencing his modern predecessor’s motifs in every stage, as evident in his reprisal of the former artist’s stage curtain.

    In Study from Parade Triple Bill, the barbed wire strewn across the stage invokes the era in which the ballet had originally been performed at the height of trench warfare in the World War I, with enemy guns blaring within a short distance of Paris. The French capital is explicitly depicted by the abbreviated form of the base of the Eiffel Tower, appearing like a reduced excerpt from a painting by Robert Delaunay. The subtext of Parade, of the ballet being performed to acclaim against the backdrop of conflict, of culture winning through even such inhumane turmoil as the First World War, particularly suited Hockney, a committed pacifist.

    Picasso’s legacy was all the stronger in Study from Parade Triple Bill and its related pictures due to the moment when they were undertaken. Around this time of the early 1980s, Picasso had been given a posthumous retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art, New York with four dozen rooms filled with works from his earliest childhood drawings and paintings through to the early 1970s. Hockney was energized by this show. Having initially carried out his conceptual designs for Parade, in response to Picasso, he now turned to oil on canvas, the medium used in the present work. He had visited the retrospective on his way to London from his adoptive home in Los Angeles; over the next two months in his Kensington studio, he would create almost twenty paintings, revealing his enthusiasm both for the act of painting and for the subject matter, Parade.

    Hockney’s set design for the Met included a number of innovations. Because of the playful nature of L’enfant et les Sortilèges, in which a boy torments various animate and inanimate victims before they turn the tables on him, Hockney had acquired some colored blocks from a toyshop and arranged them to spell out the composer’s name, Ravel. Dexter responded so enthusiastically to this concept that it was elaborated in miniature; as Hockney recalled, “[the blocks have] all got six sides and we can flick them over and represent with different sides of the blocks things like the furniture, etc. That afternoon we blocked the whole thing out. I crudely painted the sides of the blocks, making a fireplace, furniture, books and so on, to show how they could be transformed” (David Hockney, quoted in Nikos Stangos, ed., That’s the Way I See It, London, 1993, p. 58). In Study from Parade Triple Bill, some of these blocks can be seen on the stage, rendered in sky blue.

    Playful solutions like this made Hockney’s designs so effective. The triple bill was a huge success, and received critical acclaim. Writing in The New York Times, John Russell began by citing Hockney’s prior experience: “With his paintings, his drawings, his prints and his stage designs (for Stravinsky’s ‘Rake’s Progress’ and Mozart’s ‘Magic Flute,’ both at the Glyndebourne Opera in England) he has endeared himself to all but a skeptical minority” (John Russell, “David Hockney’s Designs for Met Opera’s ‘Parade’”, The New York Times, February 20, 1981, online). In his review, Russell explained the extent to which all three elements—the ballet and the two operas—were theoretically almost un-stageable. And yet Hockney had overcome any limitations in order to create a design that fit all three pieces. Study from Parade Triple Bill is a part of that triumph, and this is demonstrated by its exuberant colors, the conveyed energy and dynamism of the stage, and its many-layered plays on representation.

Ο12

Property from the Miles and Shirley Fiterman Collection

Study from Parade Triple Bill

signed and dated "David Hockney 1980" on the reverse
oil on canvas
36 x 48 in. (91.4 x 121.9 cm.)
Painted in 1980.

Estimate
$600,000 - 800,000 

sold for $437,500

Contact Specialist
Amanda Lo Iacono
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1278

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 16 May | On View at 432 and 450 Park Avenue