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David
Hockney
United Kingdom 
born in 1937
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Biography and information
 
David Hockney (born 9 July 1937, Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England) is an English painter, draughtsman, printmaker, stage designer and photographer. An important contributor to the Pop Art movement of the 1960s, he is considered one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century. Hockney has lived for over 30 years in California. He is regarded as one of the world’s greatest living artists.

David Hockney’s bright swimming pools, split-level homes and suburban Californian landscapes is a strange brew of calmness and hyperactivity. Shadows appear to have been banished from his acrylic canvases of the 1960s, slick as magazine pages. Flat planes exist side-by-side in the patchworks, muddling our sense of distance. Hockney’s unmistakable style incorporates a broad range of sources from Baroque to Cubism and, most recently, computer graphics. An iconoclast obsessed with the Old Masters, this British Pop artist breaks every rule deliberately, deconstructing the proportions, linear perspectives, and color theory. He shows that orthodoxies are meant to be shattered, and that opposites can coexist — the message of tolerance that transcends art and has profound implications in the political and social realm.

Attributes of David Hockney’s work: the most popular and famous Hockney works are the images of pools with bright blue clear water. Many of the artist’s artworks are executed with almost photographic realism. In addition, Hockney invented his own technique for creating photo collages of hundreds of small photos taken from one point ("joiners").

Famous works of the artist: We Two Boys Together Clinging (1961), Peter Getting Out of Nick’s Pool (1966), A Bigger Splash (1967), Portrait of an artist (Pool with two figures) (1972), The Grand Canyon (1998), Bigger Trees Near Warter (2007), Winter Timber (2009), A Bigger Message (2010).

Interesting facts about David Hockney:

 Hockney revived figurative painting in a style that referenced the visual language of advertising. What separates him from other artists in the Pop movement is his obsession with Cubism. In the spirit of the Cubists, Hockney combines several scenes to create a composite view, choosing tricky spaces, like split-level homes in California and the Grand Canyon, where depth perception is already a challenge.
 David Hockney insists on personal subject matter — another thing that separates him from most other Pop artists. He depicts the domestic sphere — scenes from his own life and that of friends. This aligns him with Alice Neel, Alex Katz, and others who depicted their immediate surroundings in a manner that transcends a particular category or movement.
 Hockney was openly gay, and has remained a staunch advocate for gay rights. In the context of a macho art scene that dismissed "pretty color" as effeminate, Hockney’s bright greens, purples, pinks, and yellows are declarative statements in support of sexual freedom.
 In actively seeking to imitate photographic effects in his work, David Hockney is a forerunner of the Photorealists. He is also a heretic among the purists who feel that painting should rely only on the artist’s direct observations from nature. Though not universally accepted, Hockney researched into the history of art and his analysis has shown that Old Masters, from Vermeer to Canaletto, frequently used the camera obscura (an early form of camera) to enhance their optical effects.

Childhood and Early Life

David Hockney was born in Bradford, England, in a "radical working-class family", to Laura and Kenneth Hockney, the fourth of five children. Art was something he knew he wanted to do very early in life. At his school, academically promising boys were forced to drop art as a subject, so he deliberately failed his exams. At 16, Hockney was admitted to the acclaimed Bradford School of Art, where he studied traditional painting and life drawing alongside Norman Stevens, David Oxtoby, and John Loker. Unlike most of his peers, Hockney worked tirelessly, especially in his life drawing classes.

In 1959, Hockney went on to study at the Royal College of Art in London to be taught by several well-known painters, including Roger de Grey and Ceri Richards. His friends included R.B. Kitaj, Allen Jones, and Peter Blake. At that time, Hockney featured in the exhibition Young Contemporaries which marked the arrival of British Pop art. He was associated with the movement, but his early works display Expressionist elements, similar to some works by Francis Bacon. When the RCA said it would not let him graduate in 1962, Hockney drew the sketch The Diploma in protest.

A visit to California, where he subsequently lived for many years, inspired him to make a series of paintings of swimming pools in the comparatively new acrylic medium rendered in a highly realistic style using vibrant colours.

Mature Period

In the early 1960s, alongside Richard Hamilton, David Hockney gained recognition for his semi-abstract art paintings on the theme of homosexual love before it was decriminalized in England in 1967. In We Two Boys Clinging Together (1961), red-painted couples embrace one another while floating amidst the lines from a Walt Whitman`s poem. After moving to California at the end of 1963, Hockney began painting scenes of the sensual and uninhibited life of athletic young men, depicting swimming pools, palm trees, and perpetual sunshine. Experimenting with photography in the mid-1970s, Hockney went on to create his famous photocollages with Polaroids and snapshot prints arranged in a grid formation, pushing the two-dimensionality of photography to the limit, fragmenting the monocular vision of the camera and activating the viewer in the process. A versatile artist, Hockney has produced work in almost every medium—including full-scale opera set designs, prints, and illustrations using cutting-edge technology such as fax machines, laser photocopiers, computers, and even iPhones and iPads.

In the early 1980s, David Hockney began to produce photo collages, which he called "joiners". Using Polaroid snaps or photolab-prints of a single subject, Hockney arranged a patchwork to make a composite image. An early photomontage was of his mother. As the photographs were taken from different perspectives and at slightly different times, the result was the work having affinity with Cubism, one of Hockney’s major aims — discussing the way human vision works. Some pieces are landscapes, such as Pearblossom Highway #2, others are portraits, such as Kasmin 1982, and My Mother, Bolton Abbey, 1982

The 1990s was a very productive period for Hockney, with a huge number of retrospectives and exhibitions around the world. In 1991, he began his relationship with John Fitzherbert, a former chef, which lasted for the next 25 years. One of his most famous, important large-scale works, A Closer Grand Canyon, was completed in 1998.

To be continued…

In 2011, a poll of British art students rated David Hockney as the most influential artist of all time. His work has played a crucial role in reviving the practice of figurative painting. Hockney, still prolific, continues to reinvent himself, embracing contemporary technology and trying himself in digital art. His most recent series of works was produced on an iPad.

Having reached his 80th birthday, David Hockney still paints every day, declaring that he is in his most prolific period. Having always documented the places and people around him, his works act almost as a diary of his life, capturing the bohemian world in LA in the 1960s and 1970s, his travels, and his various lovers and acquaintances who crop up again and again in his paintings.

In February, 2017 David Hockney was presented at the Tate Britain with retrospective of his artworks, which traced the artist’s career from his early sketches in the 1960s to the unseen new paintings, It became the fastest-selling exhibition in the gallery’s history.

This exhibition was the largest ever staged by the Gallery and Hockney’s most extensive show, covering six decades of his life lived between London, Yorkshire and Los Angeles. It was also his first retrospective since 1988. Always one for understatement, walking around after the exhibition installation, Hockney only comment was, "I made some quite good pictures, didn’t I?"

Author: Liliya Lytvyn
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Artworks by the artist
209 artworks total
1977, 183×183 cm
1966, 213×213.4 cm
1967, 242.5×243.9 cm
2007, 460×1220 cm
2005, 142.2×193 cm
View 210 artworks by the artist