David Hockney’s Yosemite and Masters of California Basketry highlights the impact that Yosemite has had over time and space on artistic production, from the valley’s original Indigenous inhabitants to one of the most celebrated artists of the 20th and 21st centuries.
In 1982, British artist David Hockney began the first of his many expeditions to Yosemite, which resulted in a series of photographic collages, some of which are on view in this exhibition. In 2010 and again in 2011 Hockney visited Yosemite Valley. There, for the first time, he used his iPad to draw en plein air taking inspiration from the landmarks, vistas, and iconic landscape. Featured in the exhibition are 29 iPad drawings printed on paper in a limited edition. This work reflects Hockney’s ongoing and inspired visual interpretation of the American West.
You see this incredible valley, verdant at the base and with big waterfalls, vast canyon walls. It’s truly spectacular. People just stand and look at it. It’s the space that is thrilling. It’s quite something.
The Yosemite Valley landscape has long inspired artistic production. The Indigenous inhabitants who ancestrally lived upon the land conceptually incorporated its vistas into their visual culture and utilized its natural materials in their artwork. During the 20th century, production of baskets in the Yosemite Valley was at its zenith, fueled by a newly established tourism-based economy in the 1920s. Miwok and Mono Lake Paiute women began expanding their practice of making baskets as traditional functional objects, evolving them into objects designed for artistic consumption. The work of these artists is considered to this day a benchmark for excellence in the field.
The exhibition marks the first showing of Hockney’s work in Arizona and will highlight the influence of the American landscape on his seminal work while illuminating how Indigenous women inspired by the same landscape have made significant contributions to the field of art production. The objects on view will illustrate ways in which technology can be implemented in artistic creation, from the sophisticated technology of basketry to the innovative use of digital technologies like the iPad. Included are more than 20 spectacular examples of Mono Lake Paiute and Miwok basketry, made by 9 different artists in the early to mid-20th century, as well as 29 of Hockney’s iPad drawings printed on paper, and his rarely shown photographic collages from the 1980s. Situated against the backdrop of the Yosemite Valley’s history—from first contact between Indigenous tribes in the region and Euro-American settlers from the Mariposa Battalion and the Mariposa War, on through the California Gold Rush and Yosemite Indian Field Days—the exhibition illuminates how Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists have and continue to interpret this landscape in visual culture and fine art.