'Cliff', David Hockney, 1962

Painting of a red heart

Image courtesy of the Royal College of Art

Oil paint on board

This painting is a clear statement of Hockney’s feelings for the pop star Cliff Richard. During his time at the Royal College of Art, Hockney had a crush on him and was sure he was gay. He described him as ‘very attractive, very sexy’. He cut out photographs of him from newspapers and pinned them up in his painting cubicle at the College, because '...other people used to stick up girl pin-ups'.

Cliff became the subject of several paintings, and Hockney created a fantasy character, ‘Doll Boy’, inspired by him. He also used Doll Boy to introduce figures into his work. This painting is the equivalent of scribbling ‘David loves Cliff’ on the wall of a public toilet.