|Birth Day:||July 9, 1937|
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He was ushered into the spotlight while at the Royal College of Art when his work was exhibited in the Young Contemporaries display. He visited California as a young man and was inspired to draw a series of images of swimming pools.
Hockney experimented with printmaking as early as a lithograph Self-Portrait in 1954 and worked in etchings during his time at RCA. In 1965, the print workshop Gemini G.E.L. approached him to create a series of lithographs with a Los Angeles theme. Hockney responded by creating The Hollywood Collection, a series of lithographs recreating the art collection of a Hollywood star, each piece depicting an imagined work of art within a frame. Hockney went on to produce many other portfolios with Gemini G.E.L. including Friends, The Weather Series, and Some New Prints. During the 1960s he produced several series of prints he thought of as 'graphic tales', including A Rake’s Progress (1961–63) after Hogarth, Illustrations for Fourteen Poems from C.P. Cavafy (1966) and Illustrations for Six Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm (1969).
At the Royal College of Art, Hockney featured in the exhibition Young Contemporaries – alongside Peter Blake – that announced 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 if he did not complete an assignment of a life drawing of a female model in 1962, Hockney painted Life Painting for a Diploma in protest. He had refused to write an essay required for the final examination, saying he should be assessed solely on his artworks. Recognising his talent and growing reputation, the RCA changed its regulations and awarded the diploma. After leaving the RCA, he taught at Maidstone College of Art for a short time.
David Hockney has been featured in over 400 solo exhibitions and over 500 group exhibitions. He had his first one-man show at Kasmin Limited when he was 26 in 1963, and by 1970 the Whitechapel Gallery in London had organised the first of several major retrospectives, which subsequently travelled to three European institutions. LACMA also hosted a retrospective exhibition in 1988 which travelled to The Met, New York, and Tate, London. In 2004, he was included in the cross-generational Whitney Biennial, where his portraits appeared in a gallery with those of a younger artist he had inspired, Elizabeth Peyton.
Hockney is gay and has explored the nature of gay love in his portraiture. Sometimes, as in We Two Boys Together Clinging (1961), named after a poem by Walt Whitman, the works refer to his love for men. In 1963, he painted two men together in the painting Domestic Scene, Los Angeles, one showering while the other washes his back. In summer 1966, while teaching at UCLA he met Peter Schlesinger, an art student who posed for paintings and drawings, and with whom he became romantically involved.
Hockney moved to Los Angeles in 1964, where he was inspired to make a series of paintings of swimming pools in the comparatively new acrylic medium using vibrant colours. The artist lived back and forth among Los Angeles, London, and Paris in the late 1960s to 1970s. In 1974 he began a decade-long personal relationship with Gregory Evans who moved with him to the US in 1976 and as of 2019 remains a business partner. In 1978 he rented a house in the Hollywood Hills, and later bought and expanded it to include his studio. He also owned a 1,643-square-foot beach house at 21039 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, which he sold in 1999 for around $1.5 million.
Hockney's first stage designs were for Ubu Roi at London's Royal Court Theatre in 1966, Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress at the Glyndebourne Festival Opera in England in 1975, and The Magic Flute for Glyndebourne in 1978. In 1980, he agreed to design sets and costumes for a 20th-century French triple bill at the Metropolitan Opera House with the title Parade. The works were Parade, a ballet with music by Erik Satie; Les mamelles de Tirésias, an opera with libretto by Guillaume Apollinaire and music by Francis Poulenc, and L'enfant et les sortilèges, an opera with libretto by Colette and music by Maurice Ravel. The reimagined set of L'enfant et les sortilèges from the 1983 exhibition Hockney Paints the Stage is a permanent installation at the Spalding House branch of the Honolulu Museum of Art. He designed sets for another triple bill of Stravinsky's Le sacre du printemps, Le rossignol, and Oedipus Rex for the Metropolitan Opera in 1981 as well as Richard Wagner's Tristan und Isolde for the Los Angeles Music Center Opera in 1987, Puccini's Turandot in 1991 at the Chicago Lyric Opera, and Richard Strauss's Die Frau ohne Schatten in 1992 at the Royal Opera House in London. In 1994, he designed costumes and scenery for twelve opera arias for the TV broadcast of Plácido Domingo's Operalia in Mexico City. Technical advances allowed him to become increasingly complex in model-making. At his studio he had a proscenium opening 6 feet (1.8 m) by 4 feet (1.2 m) in which he built sets in 1:8 scale. He also used a computerised setup that let him punch in and program lighting cues at will and synchronise them to a soundtrack of the music.
In 1966, while working on a series of etchings based on love poems by the Greek poet Constantine P. Cavafy, Hockney starred in a documentary by filmmaker James Scott, entitled Love's Presentation. He was the subject of Jack Hazan's 1974 biopic, A Bigger Splash, named after Hockney's 1967 pool painting of the same name. Hockney was also the inspiration of artist Billy Pappas in the documentary film Waiting for Hockney (2008), which debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2008.
In 1967, Hockney's painting, Peter Getting Out of Nick's Pool, won the John Moores Painting Prize at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. Hockney was offered a knighthood in 1990 but declined, before accepting an Order of Merit in January 2012. He was awarded The Royal Photographic Society's Progress medal in 1988 and the Special 150th Anniversary Medal and Honorary Fellowship in recognition of a sustained, significant contribution to the art of photography in 2003. He was made a Companion of Honour in 1997 and awarded The Cultural Award from the German Society for Photography (DGPh). He is a Royal Academician. In 2012, he was appointed to the Order of Merit, an honour restricted to 24 members at any one time for their contributions to the arts and sciences.
In 1973 Hockney began a fruitful collaboration with Aldo Crommelynck, Picasso's preferred printer. In his atelier, he adopted Crommelynck's trademark sugar lift, as well as a system of the master's own devising of imposing a wooden frame onto the plate to ensure color separation. Their early work together included Artist and Model (1973–74) and Contrejour in the French Style (1974). In 1976 Hockney created a portfolio of 20 etchings at Crommelynck's atelier, The Blue Guitar: Etchings By David Hockney Who Was Inspired By Wallace Stevens Who Was Inspired By Pablo Picasso. The etchings refer to themes in a poem by Wallace Stevens, "The Man with the Blue Guitar". It was published by Petersburg Press in October 1977. That year, Petersburg also published a book, in which the images were accompanied by the poem's text.
Hockney was a founder of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in 1979. He serves on the advisory board of the political magazine Standpoint, and contributed original sketches for its launch edition, in June 2008.
In December 1985 Hockney used the Quantel Paintbox, a computer program that allowed the artist to sketch directly onto the screen. The resulting work was featured in a BBC series that profiled several artists.
Hockney was inducted into Vanity Fair's International Best-Dressed Hall of Fame in 1986. In 2005 Burberry creative director Christopher Bailey centred his entire spring/summer menswear collection around the artist and in 2012 fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, a close friend, named a checked jacket after Hockney. In 2011 British GQ named him one of the 50 Most Stylish Men in Britain and in March 2013 he was listed as one of the Fifty Best-dressed Over-50s by The Guardian.
He was a Distinguished Honoree of the National Arts Association, Los Angeles, in 1991 and received the First Annual Award of Achievement from the Archives of American Art, Los Angeles, in 1993. He was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the American Associates of the Royal Academy Trust, New York in 1992 and was given a Foreign Honorary Membership to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1997. In 2003, Hockney was awarded the Lorenzo de' Medici Lifetime Career Award of the Florence Biennale, Italy.
From 1999 to 2001 Hockney used a camera lucida for his research into art history as well as his own work in the studio. He created over 200 drawings of friends, family, and himself using this antique lens-based device.
Hockney returned more frequently to Yorkshire in the 1990s, usually every three months, to visit his mother who died in 1999. He rarely stayed for more than two weeks until 1997, when his friend Jonathan Silver who was terminally ill encouraged him to capture the local surroundings. He did this at first with paintings based on memory, some from his boyhood. In 1998, he completed the painting of the Yorkshire landmark, Garrowby Hill. Hockney returned to Yorkshire for longer and longer stays, and by 2003 was painting the countryside en plein air in both oils and watercolor. He set up residence and studio in a converted bed and breakfast, in the seaside town of Bridlington, about 75 miles from where he was born. The oil paintings he produced after 2005 were influenced by his intensive studies in watercolour, a series titled Midsummer: East Yorkshire (2003–2004). He created paintings made of multiple smaller canvases—two to fifty—placed together. To help him visualize work at that scale, he used digital photographic reproductions to study the day's work.
In the 2001 television programme and book Secret Knowledge, Hockney posited that the Old Masters used camera obscura as well as camera lucida and lens techniques that projected the image of the subject onto the surface of the painting. Hockney argues that this technique migrated gradually from Northern Europe to Italy, and is the reason for the photographic style of painting we see in the Renaissance and later periods of art. He published his conclusions in the 2001 book Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters, which was revised in 2006.
In October 2006, the National Portrait Gallery in London organised one of the largest ever displays of Hockney's portraiture work, including 150 paintings, drawings, prints, sketchbooks, and photocollages from over five decades. The collection ranged from his earliest self-portraits to work he completed in 2005. Hockney assisted in displaying the works and the exhibition, which ran until January 2007, was one of the gallery's most successful. In 2009, "David Hockney: Just Nature" attracted some 100,000 visitors at the Kunsthalle Würth in Schwäbisch Hall, Germany.
On 21 June 2006, Hockney's painting, The Splash sold for £2.6 million. It was offered for auction again on 11 February 2020, with an estimate of £20-30 million and sold, to an unknown buyer, for £23.1 million.
In June 2007, Hockney's largest painting, Bigger Trees Near Warter or/ou Peinture sur le Motif pour le Nouvel Age Post-Photographique, which measures 15 feet by 40 feet, was hung in the Royal Academy's largest gallery in its annual Summer Exhibition. This work "is a monumental-scale view of a coppice in Hockney's native Yorkshire, between Bridlington and York. It was painted on 50 individual canvases, mostly working in situ, over five weeks last winter." In 2008, he donated it to Tate in London, saying: "I thought if I'm going to give something to the Tate I want to give them something really good. It's going to be here for a while. I don't want to give things I'm not too proud of ... I thought this was a good painting because it's of England ... it seems like a good thing to do." The painting was the subject of a BBC1 Imagine film documentary by Bruno Wollheim called David Hockney: A Bigger Picture (2009) which followed Hockney as he worked outdoors over the preceding two years.
Beverly Hills Housewife (1966–67), a 12-foot-long acrylic that depicts the collector Betty Freeman standing by her pool in a long hot-pink dress, sold for $7.9 million at Christie's in New York in 2008, the top lot of the sale and a record price for a Hockney. This was topped in 2016 when his Woldgate Woods landscape made £9.4 million at auction.
The David Hockney Foundation—both the U.K. registered charity 1127262 and the U.S.A. 501(c)(3) private operating foundation—was created by the artist in 2008. In 2012, Hockney, worth an estimated $55.2 million (approx. £36.1 m), transferred paintings valued at $124.2 million (approx. £81.5 m) to the David Hockney Foundation, and gave an additional $1.2 million (approx. £0.79 m) in cash to help fund the foundation's operations.
Since 2009, Hockney has painted hundreds of portraits, still lifes and landscapes using the Brushes iPhone and iPad application, often sending them to his friends. In 2010 and 2011, Hockney visited Yosemite National Park to draw its landscape on his iPad. He used an iPad in designing a stained glass window at Westminster Abbey which celebrated the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. Unveiled in September 2018, the Queen's Window is located in the north transept of the Abbey and features a hawthorn blossom scene which is set in Yorkshire.
He is a staunch pro-tobacco campaigner and was invited to guest-edit BBC Radio's Today programme on 29 December 2009 to air his views on the subject.
From 2010 to 2014, Hockney created multi-camera movies using three to eighteen cameras to record a single scene. He filmed the landscape of Yorkshire in various seasons, jugglers and dancers, and his own exhibitions within the de Young Museum and the Royal Academy of Arts.
In October 2010, he and a hundred other artists signed an open letter to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt, protesting against cutbacks in the arts.
From 21 January 2012 to 9 April 2012, the Royal Academy presented A Bigger Picture, which included more than 150 works, many of which take entire walls in the gallery's brightly lit rooms. The exhibition is dedicated to landscapes, especially trees and tree tunnels of his native Yorkshire. Works included oil paintings, watercolours, and drawings created on an iPad and printed on paper. Hockney said, in a 2012 interview, "It's about big things. You can make paintings bigger. We're also making photographs bigger, videos bigger, all to do with drawing." The exhibition drew more than 600,000 visitors in under 3 months. The exhibition moved to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain from 15 May to 30 September, and from there to the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, Germany, between 27 October 2012 and 3 February 2013.
Commissioned by The Other Art Fair, a November 2011 poll of 1,000 British painters and sculptors declared him Britain's most influential artist of all time. In 2012, Hockney was among the British cultural icons selected by artist Sir Peter Blake to appear in a new version of his most famous artwork – the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover – to celebrate the British cultural figures of his life that he most admires.
In 2012, Hockney featured in BBC Radio 4's list of The New Elizabethans to mark the diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. A panel of seven academics, journalists and historians named Hockney among the group of people in the UK "whose actions during the reign of Elizabeth II have had a significant impact on lives in these islands and given the age its character".
Hockney's earlier photocollages influenced his shift to another medium, digital photography. He combined hundreds of photographs to create multi-viewpoint "photographic drawings" of groups of his friends in 2014. Hockney picked the process back up in 2017, this time using the more advanced Agisoft PhotoScan photogrammetric software which allowed him to stitch together and rearrange thousands of photos. The resulting images were printed out as massive photomurals and were exhibited at Pace Gallery and LACMA in 2018.
On the morning of 18 March 2013, Hockney's 23-year-old assistant, Dominic Elliott, died as a result of drinking drain cleaner at Hockney's Bridlington studio; he had also earlier drunk alcohol and taken cocaine, ecstasy and temazepam. Elliott was a first- and second-team player for Bridlington Rugby Club. It was reported that Hockney's partner drove Elliott to Scarborough General Hospital where he later died. The inquest returned a verdict of death by misadventure and Hockney was never implicated. In November 2015 Hockney sold his house in Bridlington, a five-bedroomed former guest house, for £625,000, cutting all his remaining ties with the town.
The 2015 Luca Guadagnino's film A Bigger Splash was named after Hockney's painting.
In 2016, the Royal Academy exhibited Hockney's series entitled 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life which traveled to Ca' Pesaro in Venice, Italy, and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, in 2017 and to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2018. Hockney calls the paintings started in 2013 "twenty-hour exposures" because each sitting took six to seven hours on three consecutive days.
In 2017, Hockney was awarded the San Francisco Opera Medal on the occasion of the revival and restoration of his production for Turandot.
After the blockbuster exhibitions in 2017 of the works of decades past, Hockney moved right along to show his newest paintings on hexagonal canvases and mural-size 3D photographic drawings at Pace Gallery in 2018. He revisited paintings of Garrowby Hill, the Grand Canyon, and Nichols Canyon Road, this time painting them on hexagonal canvases to enhance aspects of reverse perspective. In 2019, his early work featured in his native Yorkshire at The Hepworth Wakefield.
The Foundation's mission is to advance appreciation and understanding of visual art and culture through the exhibition, preservation, and publication of David Hockney's work. Richard Benefield, who organized David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition in 2013–2014 at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, became the first executive director in January 2017.
The record was broken again in 2018 with the sale of Piscine de Medianoche (Paper Pool 30) for $11.74 million and then doubled in the same Sotheby's auction when Pacific Coast Highway and Santa Monica sold for $28.5 million.
On 15 November 2018, David Hockney's 1972 painting Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) sold at Christie's for $90.3 million with fees, surpassing the previous auction record for a living artist of $58.4 million, held by Jeff Koons for one of his Balloon Dog sculptures. He had originally sold this painting for $20,000 in 1972.
Currently, David Hockney is 85 years, 2 months and 16 days old. David Hockney will celebrate 86th birthday on a Sunday 9th of July 2023.
Find out about David Hockney birthday activities in timeline view here.