Films about art can make art seem small and banal, but they can also expand and enlarge it—like the first films by the British art film pioneer James Scott (*1941). The Museum Ludwig will bring them into a dialogue with the works they feature: David Hockney’s Illustrations for Fourteen Poems by C.P. Cavafy (1966) and works by Richard Hamilton. The Cologne-based collectors Herbert Meyer-Ellinger and Christoph Vowinckel donated this series of works by Hockney to the museum in 2016. Now it is being exhibited for the first time, along with works on paper by Hockney and Hamilton from the collection, supplemented with loans from private collections.
Illustrations for Fourteen Poems by C.P. Cavafy comes from an early creative phase that was central to David Hockney’s (*1937 in Bradford, UK) development. This portfolio brings together three subjects of Hockney’s art: his interest in the expressive possibilities of prints, the question of the relationship between literature and visual art, and the markedly self-evident portrayal of homosexuality in a dominantly heterosexual society. This self-evidence is further underscored in Scott’s short film Love’s Presentation (1966), which follows the genesis of the series. The film shows the artist as a craftsman and does not comment on the homoerotic subjects that he documents in detail in the pictures, not because he views them as taboo, but because—like Hockney’s work itself—he anticipates a state in which suppression has been overcome and the taboo long forgotten.
Richard Hamilton (1922–2011) was one of the earliest representatives of British Pop Art. Hockney painted his portrait, and in 1971 both artists protested against admission fees for British museums. Hamilton’s prints carry out subversion through affirmation, distilling banal elements of popular culture (celebrity worship, advertising, postcards) in order to reveal the emptiness behind the abundance, the horror behind the kitsch. Scott’s film Richard Hamilton (1969) is also a film by Richard Hamilton. He brings the temples of consumption, pop stars, and crossed-out Marilyns back into circulation and dissolves them in the noise of the media from which Hamilton took them. This is film as “expanded graphics”: not only educational, but also an expansion and liquefaction of art.