Marilyn in Hockney’s Hollywood

Artist David Hockney’s life-sized nude portrait of actress Theresa Russell, created for her role as the Marilyn-inspired heroine of Insignificance (1985), is featured in a new exhibition, ‘Hockney and Hollywood‘, now on display at the Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle, County Durham, as the Darlington and Stockton Times reports.

“The Yorkshire-born artist was commissioned by his film director friend Nicolas Roeg to create the montage for his comedy movie Insignificance, which starred his then wife, Theresa Russell, as Marilyn Monroe.The film is set in a New York hotel in the 1950s and tells the story of four icons of the era as they discuss life, death, sex and the universe.It took Hockney four attempts with a Pentax camera to capture the images he wanted to create the piece entitled ‘Nude, 17th June 1984’.

The collage shows both Theresa’s front and back as Hockney explores the use of lines and edges in his photography. The actress’ pose, together with the pink satin sheets, her blond wig and licking of her lips is reminiscent of a centrefold pin up.

Nicolas Roeg– who directed Don’t Look Now, The Man Who Fell to Earth and The Witches– documented Hockney at work on the piece. His photographs give a unique and intimate never before seen behind the scenes look at Hockney and are an integral part of the exhibition, as one artist observes another.

The work is on loan to the Bowes for two years from Mr Roeg’s family.

His son Statten Roeg, who remembers it hanging on the stairs of his father’s house, said: ‘It was quite funny seeing people’s reactions the first time they came to visit, especially of school friends in my younger days. My mother used to visit David in Los Angeles when they both lived there.’

Museum director Adrian Jenkins said: ‘We are really thrilled to have Nude, 17th June 1984 together with the amazing behind the scenes photographs that give us a personal insight into the camaraderie between Hockney and his friends during the making of the piece.’

The exhibition runs from Saturday until November 3, 2019.

The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle, County Durham is open from 10am until 5pm, every day except 25, 26 December and 1 January. “