David Hockney, “Man In Shower in Beverly Hills”, 1964, Acrylic on Canvas, 65 ½ x 65 ½ in.
Hockney formed his first impressions of Los Angeles from books and magazines he read before he visited the city. While still in London in 1963, he painted an invented shower scene, “Domestic Scene, Los Angeles”, now in a private collection, which included an image of two men taken from the homoerotic American magazine ‘Physique Pictorial’.
When Hockney went to Los Angeles six months later, he was particularly fascinated by the use of water for irrigation and recreation in the semi-arid environment. He delighted in experimenting with various methods of depicting drops and sprays of water, attracted by the ‘idea of painting moving water in a very slow and careful manne. Hockney painted swimming pools and lawn sprinklers, but was equally intrigued by showers.
“Americans take showers all the time … For an artist the interest of showers is obvious: the whole body is always in view and in movement, usually gracefully, as the bather is caressing his own body. There is also a three-hundred-year tradition of the bather as a subject in painting. Beverly Hills houses seemed full of showers of all shapes and sizes … They all seemed to me to have elements of luxury.” – David Hockney