David Hockney
The World Is Beautiful

 

 

David Hockney has produced some of the most vividly recognizable images of this century.

 

His ambitious pursuits stretch across a vast range of media, from photographic collages to full-scale opera stagings and from fax drawings to an intensive art historical study of the optical devices of Old Masters. David Hockney received the gold medal for his year at London’s Royal College of Art in 1962. The artist had his first one-man show in 1963 at the age of 26, and by 1970 the first of several major retrospectives was organized at Whitechapel Gallery, London, which subsequently traveled to three additional European institutions. Hockney has received a vast number of accolades throughout his career, including nine honorary degrees from institutions worldwide.

David Hockney, In the Studio, December 2017, 2017, photographic drawing printed on 7 sheets of paper, mounted on 7 sheets of Dibond, sheet size: 109-1/2″ x 42-3/4″, each 9′ 1-1/2″ × 24′ 11-1/4″ (278.1 cm × 760.1 cm), overall installation dimensions © 2019 David Hockney

 

 

Born in 1937 in Bradford, Yorkshire, David Hockney studied at the Bradford School of Art and later at the Royal College of Art in London where he won the Art Gold Medal in 1962 for his draughtsmanship and innovation in painting. At a time when artists were all going to New York to practice Pop Art and Abstract Expressionism, Hockney went to Los Angeles and focused on figurative painting. There, he would pursue his fascination with swimming pools that would produce some of his more iconic works. By constantly challenging traditional approaches to art, and continually incorporating new styles and techniques, Hockney slowly but surely became one of the most sought-after contemporary artists.

 

 

David Hockney describes his enthusiasm for color as the product of Bradford, stating that his childhood was very black in a city covered in soot. Even photography at the time was black and white, preventing him from believing that the colors used by Vincent Van Gogh were anything but exaggeration. With this in mind, his later move to California, a place he called “the promised land”, as well as his dapper and colorful wardrobe comes as no surprise. From his home in the Hollywood Hills, Hockney embraces the vibrant color around him, particularly seen in Garden with Blue Terrace, which accurately depicts the cobalt blue, flamingo pink, lemon yellow and jungle green colors of his home.

 

David Hockney has been featured in over 400 solo exhibitions and over 500 group exhibitions. He was notably exhibited at LACMA in Los Angeles, The Metropolitan Museum in New-York, The National Gallery, the Tate Britain, and The Royal Academy of Arts in London, the Kunsthalle Wurth in Berlin, Centre George Pompidou in Paris.

David Hockney’s works have joined numerous public collections including The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Paul Getty Museum and the LACMA in Los Angeles, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the MOMA in New-York, Centre George Pompidou in Paris, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC, The National Portrait Gallery and The New Tate in London.

 

 

From 9 February to 29 May 2017 David Hockney was presented at the Tate Britain and became the gallery’s most visited exhibition ever. The exhibition marked Hockney’s 80th year and gathered together “an extensive selection of David Hockney’s most famous works celebrating his achievements in painting, drawing, print, photography and video across six decades”. The show then traveled to Centre George Pompidou in Paris and to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New-York. The wildly popular retrospective landed among the top ten ticketed exhibitions in London and Paris for 2017 with over 4,000 visitors per day at the Tate and over 5,000 visitors per day in Paris.

 

 

David Hockney’s use of color is paired with his perennial love for technology and methods for artmaking. He was one of the first artists to make extensive use of acrylic paint, a medium particularly useful for him when painting large areas of color as it is fast drying. But perhaps more remarkable is his use of technology to challenge traditional treatments of artwork. In 1989 Hockney famously transported artworks to the São Paulo Biennial by faxing them from his studio in Los Angeles. This method of artwork transportation is pushed further in his iPad and iPhone works. A lover of the outdoors, the iPad allowed Hockney to simplify the process of drawing and painting “en plein air”. This new body of work inevitably prompted skepticism from critics, but it nonetheless rose to international acclaim.

 

 

David Hockney drew influence from across art history, in ancient Egyptian works, as well as in Old Masters, such as Titian’s bright use of color. But it is photography that has a unique influence on his approach to the canvas, seeing it as a tool for depicting reality. Photographs allow him to remember the details of a scene to which he adds additional information to bring it to life. Of his most famous fusions of photography and painting is Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), which sold in 2018 for over USD 90 million and became the most expensive work by a living artist. Painted in 1972, the portrait was inspired by two unrelated photographs Hockney saw on his studio floor: a photo of a swimming pool from a villa outside Saint-Tropez and one of his former lovers, Peter Schlesinger, in London’s Kensington Gardens. This painting is particularly important as it unites his most important themes from the ’60s and ’70s – swimming pools and double portraits – into a single painting.