David Hockney b.Bradford 1937-
Arguably the best known painter of his generation, David Hockney first studied art at Bradford and then from 1959 at the Royal College in London. His fellow students there included Derek Boshier, Patrick Caulfield, Allen Jones,
R B Kitaj and Peter Phillips.
His works from that period, executed in a loose yet figurative style contain references to mass culture; packaging, popular music and advertising and often incorporate lettering. By the time of his graduation in 1962 he had already acquired a national reputation and above all a dealer, John Kasmin, who staged his first one-man show in 1963.
Economics played a major part in David Hockney’s early graphic work insofar as he could not afford to buy paint. In 1961 an etching, Three Kings and a Queen, won a prize of one hundred pounds from Robert Erskine’s St. George’s Gallery. This enabled him to extend a planned visit to New York for a whole three months. It was suggested that he show some of his other prints to MoMA who purchased them for their collection. With the proceeds he bought an American suit and dyed his hair blond. ‘Blonds have more fun’, so the Clairol ad said.
On his return he began working on his first portfolio of prints, A Rake’s Progress, which is a reflection of his experiences and thoughts about New York City.
His first visit to southern California was in early 1964. The light, the colour, the landscape and the very lifestyle influenced his work tremendously. Working from both life and photography his art became far more naturalistic in content. A Hollywood Collection, a suite of six lithographs was produced in the Los Angeles workshops of master printer Ken Tyler.
Literature has inspired some of this artist’s most outstanding printmaking. He has illustrated the poems of Cavafy, the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm and produced a suite of colour etchings based on the writings of Wallace Stevens.
He has experimented with Polaroid photo collage, office copier printing, even transmitted complete exhibitions via fax - and now the i-Pad. David Hockney has never been one to shy away from the latest technology but he always returns to painting, the traditional means of expression used by artists through the centuries.
Although he has said that his greatest influence is Picasso, his fascination and willingness to use new media also aligns him with the Pop artist’s interest in mass production.
His other great love is opera and he has designed stage sets for Glynebourne and the Metropolitan Opera House, New York.
David Hockney has returned to his native East Yorkshire to live and work. His subject matter is landscape thus aligning himself with other greats,Turner and Constable, but with an Impressionist’s palette. In 2012, the year that the Olympic Games came to London, the Royal Academy of Arts showcased a major exhibition of new works site specific to their galleries, many on an Olympian scale.