Fig. 1 Hockney, Shadows in the Pool, 1978, Polaroid photograph © David Hockney 2001
In 1978 David Hockney was longing to return to the solice of his studio after a long year of challenging and taxing collaboration in the design of the opera The Magic Flute in London. Hockney headed west for California "where they leave you alone" but stopped in New York to visit his close friend Ken Tyler.
Ken had a swimming pool in the garden and every lunch-time I would have a swim. I kept looking at the swimming pool; and it's a wonderful subject, water, the light on the water. And this process with paper pulp demands a lot of water; you have to wear boots and rubber aprons. I thought [I should] find a watery subject for this process and here it is; here, this pool, every time that you look at the surface, you look through it, you look under it . . . I tried to figure out how to begin it, how to do it . . . soon I didn't like doing everything without figures, and I added Gregory in the pool, whose figure was the ground paper itself. I drew the figure out very simply, then I made the mould, and used two pink colours which I put together and then I kneaded them with my fingers which I thought was nice because it's nice to do that to flesh. It was a good contrast to the effect of water and the effect of shadow (D. Hockney, David Hockney Paper Pools, New York, 1980, pp. 21 and 36, illustrated, p. 35).