Red Flowers & Green Leaves, Separate, May 1988David Hockney

Red Flowers & Green Leaves, Separate, May 1988

Homemade print in colours executed on an office colour copy machine
On two sheets of Arches paper
Signed, dated and numbered from the edition of 70
Printed by the artist
Published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Sheet: 35.5 × 43.1 cm (14 × 17 in)

Red Flowers & Green Leaves, Separate, May 1988
Red Flowers & Green Leaves, Separate, May 1988

In February of 1986, Hockney began experimenting with a friend’s copy machine and soon he’d discovered it served, in fact, as a new type of printing equipment. The ‘home-made prints’- a term the artist coined to describe the body of work he produced using the photocopier - disrupted the traditional process of colour printmaking, a painstaking working method that involves the expert layering and precise registration of each colour block to build the composite image. The unconventional process of creating an original print with the copy machine is rather similar to that of a traditional colour lithograph. Each colour is drawn onto a separate sheet of paper. That colour is then printed onto each sheet of the edition. Once one colour has been completed, the printed sheets are loaded back into the machine and a sheet with another, separate colour is placed on the copy bed.

‘But with these copying machines, I can work by myself — indeed you virtually have to work by yourself; there’s nothing for anyone else to do — and I can work with great speed and responsiveness. In fact, this is the closest I’ve ever come in printing to what it’s like to paint: I can put something down, evaluate it, alter it, revise it, all in a matter of seconds. My interest in the [copying] machine was philosophical really,’ he explains. ‘I realised it was a printing machine and a camera of a new kind.’