The installation unfolds as a kind of silent performance that evokes Hockney’s experience of designing sets and costumes for operas even as he lost his hearing. In the absence of sound, pure visual experience compensates and suggests a different narrative to every viewer. The title offers a pun and a suggestion from the artist. To sit in this installation through the entire cycle of light shifts is to take time for what Hockney called “the pleasure of looking” that leads us to understand “how beautiful the world is.”
Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006
Snails Space unfolds as a silent performance that evokes David Hockney’s experience of designing sets and costumes for operas even as he lost his hearing. In the absence of sound, pure visual experience compensates and suggests a different narrative to every viewer. The installation consists of two attached canvases and a floor piece that look like a tiny, tangled world blown up to a preposterous size. Three-dimensional and painted patterns and shapes suggest enchanted forests and streams. These appear to advance and recede with the changing colors of the lights, controlled by a nine-minute computer program; viewers follow these shifts as they would the episodes of a stage play.
Smithsonian American Art Museum: Commemorative Guide. Nashville, TN: Beckon Books, 2015.
Snails Space with Vari-Lites, “Painting as Performance”
- Not on view
- overall: 84 x 260 x 135 in. (213.4 x 660.4 x 342.9 cm)
© 1995-96, David Hockney
- Credit Line
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Gift of Nan Tucker McEvoy
- Mediums Description
- oil on two canvases, acrylic on canvas-covered masonite, wood dowels
- Object Number
- Linked Open Data
- Linked Open Data URI