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Artists David Hockney
David Hockney Photo

David Hockney

British-American Painter

Movements and Styles: Pop Art, British Pop Art, Nouveau Réalisme

Born: July 9, 1937 - Bradford, UK

David Hockney Timeline

Quotes

"I never thought the swimming pool pictures were at all about mere hedonist pleasure. They were about the surface of the water, the very thin film, the shimmering two-dimensionality"
David Hockney
"It's hard work, but I like it. Frank Auerbach said once it is a lot of fun as well, and it is. I like making pictures, I do, yeah."
David Hockney
"The joy and urge to draw is an ancient, 40,000-year-old impulse."
David Hockney
"All art is contemporary, if it's alive, and if it's not alive, what's the point of it?"
David Hockney
"Photography is all right if you don't mind looking at the world from the point of view of a paralyzed Cyclops. But that's not what it is like to live in the world."
David Hockney
"It is very good advice to believe only what an artist does, rather than what he says about his work."
David Hockney
"Loads of people, particularly artists, hate pretty pictures. Now I've never met anyone who didn't like a pretty face."
David Hockney
"Drawing makes you see things clearer, and clearer and clearer still, until your eyes ache."
David Hockney
"Drawing is rather like playing chess: your mind races ahead of the moves that you eventually make."
David Hockney

"If we are to change our world view, images have to change. The artist now has a very important job to do. He's not a little peripheral figure entertaining rich people, he's really needed."

David Hockney Signature

Synopsis

David Hockney's bright swimming pools, split-level homes and suburban Californian landscapes are a strange brew of calm 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 a patchwork, 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, delighting in the deconstruction of proportion, linear perspective, and color theory. He shows that orthodoxies are meant to be shattered, and that opposites can coexist, a message of tolerance that transcends art and has profound implications in the political and social realm.

Key Ideas

Like other Pop artists, Hockney revived figurative painting in a style that referenced the visual language of advertising. What separates him from others 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.
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, Hockney is a forerunner of the Photorealists. He is also a heretic among purists who feel that painting should rely only on the artist's direct observations from nature. Though not universally accepted, Hockney's research into the history of art has shown that Old Masters, from Vermeer to Canaletto, frequently used the camera obscura (an early form of camera) to enhance their optical effects. If the revered Old Masters could use cameras, he implies, why can't we?

Biography

David Hockney Photo

Childhood

One of five children, David Hockney was born into a working-class family in Yorkshire, northern England, in the industrial city of Bradford. His father, a conscientious objector during the Second World War, "had a kind heart" remembers Hockney. "He thought there should be justice in the world". He also romanticized the ideals of the Communist party in Russia. While adopting his father's anti-war stance, Hockney remained resistant to ideologies and hierarchies. As a schoolboy, Hockney says of himself, "I was always quite serious, but cheeky." 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 and so he deliberately failed his exams.

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David Hockney Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
David Hockney
Interactive chart with David Hockney's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso
Henri MatisseHenri Matisse
Francis BaconFrancis Bacon
Robert RauschenbergRobert Rauschenberg

Personal Contacts

Andy WarholAndy Warhol
Peter BlakePeter Blake

Movements

CubismCubism

Influences on Artist
David Hockney
David Hockney
Years Worked: 1960s - current
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Howard HodgkinHoward Hodgkin
Lucian FreudLucian Freud
Cecily BrownCecily Brown

Personal Contacts

Allen JonesAllen Jones
R. B. KitajR. B. Kitaj

Movements

Pop ArtPop Art

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Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Anne Souter

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Ruth Epstein

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Anne Souter
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Ruth Epstein
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