You’d have felt a bit sad to be an old gold-framed Old Master hanging at the Dulwich Picture Gallery this weekend.
The people were queuing to see Hockney. I’m afraid everything else was a bit ignored, which is something which probably wouldn’t make David feel especially happy.
But who can blame us? I’m sorry, but nothing quite puts a smile on your face on the first weekend of spring like a Hockney print.
Half way through any tour of the Dulwich Picture Gallery is a little incursion into one of the most beautiful architectural spaces of English classicism, Soane’s perfect Mausoleum for Sir Francis Bourgeois, founder of the gallery. The room is suffused with an unworldly yellow light, which glows through the hidden coloured glass lantern beyond. Not unlike, in a different way, Barragan’s hidden yellow glass skylights at home in Mexico City…
It was at this point that a rather bossy guard (well, to be fair, I suppose she was just doing her job) rushed over to tell me that I wasn’t meant to be taking photos. The funny thing was I’d been taking photos for the last forty five minutes. But luckily I’d just taken this, of my favourite print in the whole exhibition, Coloured Flowers made of Paper and Ink… If you wanted to make me very happy, please will you deliver this to Queen Square soonest?
The colouring pencils in the gallery lobby felt very appropriate.The exhibition poster, by contrast, felt a bit sad. I rather wished that Hockney could have been persuaded to draw something, and write the title, like the days of old. A missed opportunity.
Soane’s brick and stone abstractions in the facade of the gallery. I was intrigued to discover that the doors to the mausoleum are completely fake. Behind them is a narrow slot, the back of the door forming a secret canvas for a bit of random graffiti. Who knew?
The yellow glazed windows read dark orange when viewed through one another.
Back home, it was time to get out two favourite books. Hockey, by Hockney, and the brilliant ‘A Chequered Past’, Peter Schlessinger’s wonderful photographic diary of the 60s and 70s, one of my favourite books of all time. Hard to get hold of. We used to sell it in the shop, but it’s now out of print I think.
I can’t believe I haven’t blogged it before. Haven’t I? Is this possible?
I’m addicted to this image of the lunch table at Chateau Moutin, 1977: …. “Baron Philippe de Rothschild was the most thoughtful and stylish of hosts. He was also kind and completely unsnobbish and served the most amazing food and, of course, incomparable wines of rare vintages, served in small quantities. His late wife Pauline’s traditions were carried on, such as maintaining a special garden for growing her famous table decorations, and taking every meal in a different spot, as there was no dining room”.
It suddenly occurred to me that the Josef Franck chair, and my socks, and yellow ochre trousers, were channeling a little bit of Hockney at that moment. Perhaps, it has to be said, not unintentionally. Happy first day of Spring.