Hockney’s move to Los Angeles in 1964 heralded a major change in style. He started using acrylics to paint vibrant suburban landscapes infused with the white light of the Californian sun. In this painting, one of his most famous, he captures the flat façades and burnished surfaces of the home of Nick Wilder, a curator and gallery owner. Hockney was influenced by Julius Shulman’s black-and-white photographs of 1960s LA, which first captured on film the smooth lines and geometric shapes of the city’s minimalist architecture. Another inspiration was Physique Pictorial, a Californian “beefcake” magazine packed with erotic photographs of athletic men posing on sunny verandas in various states of undress. Here, Hockney’s gaze settles on the body of his lover, Peter Schleslinger. Red and white squiggles evoke the ripples in the water as it laps around his bare legs.
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