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Artists David Hockney
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David Hockney

British-American Painter

Movements and Styles: Pop Art, British Pop Art, School of London, Nouveau Réalisme

Born: July 9, 1937 - Bradford, UK

David Hockney Timeline

"All art is contemporary, if it's alive, and if it's not alive, what's the point of it?"

David Hockney Signature

Summary

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?
David Hockney at Gemini GEL artist's studio in Los Angeles, California during the making of the film <i>Reaching Out</i> (1973)
David Hockney at Gemini GEL artist's studio in Los Angeles, California during the making of the film Reaching Out (1973)

Britain's beloved David Hockney has a career of breaking taboos and leading the avant-garde - to the point of being recognized as the most important artist to revitalized painting. And in his eighties, Hockney continues to be active and to make headlines.

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
Available from:
First published on 18 Feb 2016. Updated and modified regularly.
[Accessed ]