David Hockney

DAVID HOCKNEY R.A. born 1937

Hockney was born in Bradford in 1937 and studied at the local art college from1953 to 1957. At the Royal College of Art (1959-1962) he was a contemporary of R.B.Kitaj. His precocious talent became apparent in his student days. He began to contribute to the Young Contemporaries Exhibitions at the RBA Galleries from 1960 and, in 1961, he won not only the Royal College of Art gold medal, but also the Guinness Award for etching, First Prize at the Craven Image Exhibition, and the Junior Section of the John Moores Exhibition.

In 1963 he won a prize in the graphics section of the Paris Biennale and the first of his many one man exhibitions was held. In 1964 he settled in Los Angeles and produced his first, iconic, swimming pool pictures. He has since held a variety of teaching posts and travelled widely.

Hockney is too much his own man to be properly described as a Pop artist although he has often been described as such and, of course, was a contemporary of Patrick Caulfield, Allen Jones, Derek Boshier, Peter Phillips and other pioneers. His style and subject matter have taken many different directions during a career that has been concerned with a wide range of different artistic considerations.

He is a highly intelligent and articulate artist who is not afraid to change or experiment. His prints alone show an impressive versatility. For example, his black and white etchings illustrating Grimm’s Fairy Stories use a sketchy, childlike style, whereas his hotel series uses a highly expressive palette delivered in broad swathes of colour. His superb skills as a representational draughtsman can be found in some of his portraits and Hockney's swimming pools show his skills as a lithographer along with his ability to capture the effects of light on water. He has experimented with using Polaroids, and photocopiers as well as etchings, aquatints and lithographs.

One of his recurring interests is the challenge of representing three dimensional reality on a two dimensional picture surface. He has a lifelong admiration for the work of Picasso, who is referred to periodically in Hockney’s work

Hockney has a profound interest in photography and has produced striking photographic collages that are concerned with seeing from a variety of viewpoints, much as the cubists were.

Hockney’s versatility is also evident from the fact that he has designed tapestries, sets and costumes for the opera and has also developed operatic programmes. He has, furthermore, written persuasively and controversially about the use, by early artists such as Vermeer, of optical devices, such as the camera lucida, as an aid to drawing.

He has recently returned to his native Yorkshire and produced a series of watercolours, a new medium for him, painting rapidly in the open air.

Hockney is probably England’s most highly regarded living artist and his prints are much sought after.