2017 is the year of David Hockney. The internationally recognised British artist celebrates his 80th birthday this year. This occasion has prompted a major retrospective in three temples of modern art: the Tate, the Pompidou Centre and the Met. Before you discover his lifetime’s work this summer, Artsper presents the 5 things you should know about David Hockney.
#1 He paints intimate works
Portrait of an artist (Pool with two figures), 1972 ©David Hockney
David Hockney draws his inspiration from the deepest recesses of his inner self. His experiences, feelings and emotions are laid bare on the canvas. In the 1960s, after he moved to Los Angeles, he fell in love with one of his drawing students. Portrait of an artist (Pool with two figures) is an expression of the amorous disappointment stemming from this tumultuous relationship, even years after its end. Hockney depicts a lover with an impassive look, signaling the collapse of the romantic idyll. But David Hockney is more than just his love life. He paints his parents, revealing their personality, the landscapes of his childhood, his friends, and the empty chairs of lost loved ones…
# 2 He rejects avant-garde and conceptual art
Garrowby Hill, 1998 ©David Hockney
An important 20th century artist, over the years David Hockney has found himself on the fringes of several major trends. Madly in love with drawing and painting, and passionate about figurative art, he rejected conceptualism. He turned his attention to the subjects neglected by the other artists of his generation such as landscapes and depicted them with a modernity unique to him: “When they say the landscape genre has been done, that is impossible. You can’t be tired of nature,” says the artist. Inspired by Van Gogh, Picasso, Dubuffet and Matisse, he departed from classical perspectives and developed a colourful palette.
#3 A painter 2.0
IPad drawing lilies, 2010
With a predilection for figurative painting and a love for landscapes, David Hockney rejects the idea that nature is dead. The artist also stresses the failings of photography and cinema, such as their inseparability from technology. However, his vision is not without its contradictions. He loves drawing using his Ipad and Iphone! A medium he has been making use of since 2008, allowing him to explore other forms of representation.
#4 He carries considerable weight in the art market
Beverly Hills housewives, 1967 ©David Hockney
At 80 years old, David Hockney is one of the richest living artists, alongside Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst. According to an estimate from 2013, his works have fetched at least 40 million euros. They are snapped up at auctions, with his Beverly Hills Housewife canvas reaching a record 7.9 million euros in 2009.
#5 He loves cigarettes and his dachshunds
Portrait of Stanley ©David Hockney
Every artist has their obsessions, and David Hockney is no exception; he cannot go without his dachshunds and his cigarettes. David, Stanley and Boodgie are inseparable, and he never misses a chance to use the dogs as models. So much so that the works dedicated to them have been collected in a special volume! Cigarettes are his other addiction. A great opponent of anti-smoking laws, the artist admits to smoking for the sake of his “mental health”, with a stock of 2000 cigarettes in his California studio.