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David Hockney at the Contemporary Art Society

David Hockney, 'Bedlam', A Rake's Progress (portfolio of sixteen prints) 1961-3, etching, edition of 50, 17 3/4 x 11 1/2in. © David Hockney.

Exhibition preview

THE NEXT artist to show their work at the Contemporary Art Society as part of the Displays series is internationally renowned British artist David Hockney.

The Contemporary Art Society recently gifted David Hockney’s A Rake’s Progress (1961–3) to the Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester, as a bequest from Dr. Ronald Lande in memory of his life partner Walter Urech.

This summer, the Society is displaying the entire set of 16 prints from Wednesday, June 5 to Friday, August 16, 2013.

This seminal work is a semi-autobiographical story about Hockney, the ‘rake’, and the down and outs of his life in New York in the early 1960s. Its format, story and numbering system are based on William Hogarth’s 1735 suite of prints of the same title.

Where Hogarth’s 18th century prints illustrate the decline and fall of Tom Rakewell, Hockney’s work tells the story of the rake arriving in New York through to his eventual fate in Bedlam, a place of the mindless masses of the ‘other people’.

Curator Helen Stalker of the Whitworth Art Gallery discusses the pervading influence of A Rake’s Progress at the Contemporary Art Society on June 13 at 7pm (booking essential, non-members £10).

The second exhibition in the Projects series, Verging on the Absurd, continues at the Contemporary Art Society until Friday, June 28.

Examining the use of the absurd and surreal in contemporary art, the exhibition presents works by artists Pil and Galia Kollectiv, Suzanne Mooney, Francesco Pedraglio, Heather Phillipson and Samara Scott.

These artists make works that disrupt our understanding and perception of an object, image or text to give rise to new readings and associations, interfering with our desire to make sense of something and find completeness.

Each does this in a different way: by unsettling the viewer through the uncanny use of one material in the place of another, fracturing an image from its original context or making new combinations or juxtapositions of material and concept.

Pil and Galia Kollectiv discuss their work at the Contemporary Art Society on June 19 at 7pm (booking essential, non-members £10).

To book call 44 (0)20 7017 8401 or email

Displays are open Tuesday to Friday, 11am to 5pm.

Contemporary Art Society, 59 Central Street, London, EC1V 3AF

Tel: 44 (0)20 7017 8400