David Hockney (British, born 1937) Nasty 1961

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Lot 10AR
David Hockney
(British, born 1937)
Nasty
1961

Sold for £ 7,500 (US$ 10,280) inc. premium
David Hockney (British, born 1937)
Nasty
1961

ink on paper

50.8 by 40.7 cm.
20 by 16 in.

This work was executed circa 1961.

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Private Collection, USA (acquired directly from the artist circa 1968)
    Sale: Bonhams, London, Contemporary Art and Design, 11 October 2012, Lot 11
    Acquired directly from the above by the present owner


    David Hockney's Nasty belongs to a series of early works that the artist produced from 1960 whilst studying at the Royal College of Art, London. These works dealt with his personal exploration of his homosexual identity, albeit in a codified form. Although the College's bohemian environment introduced him to a much freer, more liberal lifestyle than would have been possible in his native Bradford, Hockney lived in an era where homosexuals faced prosecution, imprisonment and public vilification.

    Nasty depicts Peter Crutch, one of the artist's fellow students at the RCA and on whom Hockney had an unrequited crush. We know this because the artist rendered an almost identical figure in his painting Cha Cha Cha That Was Danced in the Early Hours of 24th March 1961 in which he recalls a specific night at the student bar when he became enamoured by Crutch's dance moves.

    In the present work, Crutch is depicted on the verge of being engulfed by a giant vagina dentata; the ultimate symbol of emasculation and aggressive female sexuality. Crutch had a girlfriend, Mo Ashley, and one can't help but wonder whether in Nasty, as the title suggests, Hockney is venting at the dominant hetero-orthodoxy, which is not only hostile to an alternative sexual proclivity, but is also frustrating the very sexual desire that forms the core of his identity as a gay man.
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