17 March – 14 May 2017
This small display showcases a series of etchings by Hockney, published in 1967, that were inspired by the poet Constantine Cavafy’s works – particularly those about love and desire between men.
Cavafy (1863–1933) lived in the Egyptian city of Alexandria for much of his life, where he wrote poems inspired by the city’s ancient history, and male same-sex relationships. Hockney borrowed an English translation of a Cavafy anthology from Bradford Library in 1960.
Hockney travelled to Egypt in 1963, visiting Alexandria and then to Beirut in 1966 to try and capture the atmosphere evoked in Cavafy’s poetry. Despite collecting photographs and making drawings during his trips, the prints mostly depict non-specific intimate, private worlds.
The publication of these etchings in 1967 coincided with the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales in July of that year. 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of this milestone in the campaign for equality, and this show is part of a season of displays and events at the Museum highlighting LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer) histories throughout the year.
Find out more about how same-sex relationships have been represented through time in the display Desire, love, identity: exploring LGBTQ histories, in Room 69a from 11 May to 15 October 2017.
You can also explore the range, diversity and complexity of same-sex experiences through time with the book A Little Gay History, available in the Museum shops and online.