Hockney is one of Britain’s most famous artists. His outgoing personality is often reflected in his iconic images – bright poolside scenes from California and colorful landscapes from Yorkshire, England.
David Hockney was born on July 9, 1937 in Bradford, England. He is the son of Laura and Kenneth Hockney. David is the fourth of five children.
Hockney's parents, Kenneth and Laura Hockney, allowed their son early on to explore the world around him and have the freedom and mobility to interpret what he saw in way that pleased him.
David Hockney studied at Wellington Primary School and Bradford Grammar School. He also attended Bradford College of Art between the years 1953 and 1957. Hockney later attended the Royal College of Art in London, England, beginning from 1959 until 1962. He also attained Honorary Doctorate from Otis College of Art and Design in 1985. The artist received an honorary degree in 1988 from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.
Even with the extensive formal training and education, Hockney's style was essentially acquired through self instruction. He was especially talented in the area of photography and learned his skill with constant practice and dedication beginning in 1962.
It is a widely held belief among those in the art world that Hockney's meeting with the modern artist Jacob Kramer in Leeds and the viewing of Alan Davie's exhibition in Wakfield in 1958 pushed Hockney towards the type of work that is considered avant-garde and identified him more with the pop artists of the late sixties. Alan Davie went on to hold a considerable influence over Hockney. This influence is dramatically represented by a series of abstract expressionists canvases that Hockney produced during his first year at the Royal College of the Arts.
Hockney joined a small group of other young, experimental artists that included the likes of Peter Blake and Allen Jones in 1959. Another individual that tremendously affected Hockney and held considerable influence over the work produced by Hockney was American artist R. B. Kitaj.
Hockney developed the ability to take an ordinary scene and develop it through photographs and paint into something incredibly pleasing to view. The ability to develop such scenes immediately earned Hockney a place among contemporary artists of his time.
Hockney arrived in the professional art world on the coattails of the 1960s and the world's fascination with Pop Art. Hockney was able to manipulate his innate skill as a photographer and his learned ability to paint and combined them into something that, while not new, took people by surprise. For example, Hockney would take two, sometimes more, photographs of the same image but from different vantage points, thereby changing the actual image only slightly. However, by combining the photos, Hockney created a distinct and well-integrated work. The idea of a photographic collage, while not new, provided Hockney with a new medium to capitalize on. Even though other artists such as Rejlander and Muybridge had done similar work to Hockney's, they had not attempted it on the same scale.
David drew ideas from fairy tales as well. Some of his more renowned work comes from his etchings of tales by the Brothers Grimm. His 1969 one-person show at the Kasmin featured etchings made up largely of six of the Grimms' tales. The completion of this particular work and show fulfilled a lifelong dream of Hockney's. He had even taken a boat trip on the Rhine from Mainz to Cologne so as to be able to capture the atmosphere and vividness of the tales.
By the early 1970s, Hockney had moved on to more realistic and conventional paintings. Increasingly inspired by Balthus, Edward Hopper and Giorgio Morandi, Hockney's work became less and less influenced by literature. This move was well received by critics. While David's work is physically larger than what he used to produce, his later work exemplified post-painterly abstraction in a combination with minimalism. Such a combination allowed Hockney to move even closer to a permanence within the art world. The painter's work has been displayed internationally.
Hockney started teaching at the University of Iowa in 1964, after being invited by the institution to impart lessons in art. Although the artist found the work mundane, his time at the University allowed him to create four paintings in a span of just a few weeks. He also started to deliver his lectures at University of Colorado in 1965. Two years later the artist taught at The University of California, Berkeley. He also served as an instructor at University of California, Los Angeles.
In 1985, this artist was appointed by the world-renowned fashion magazine Vogue to design the cover page of their French version. Many art lovers felt that this work was inspired by the artist’s admiration for the legendary painter Pablo Picasso.
The same year, he was among the first few people to popularize the use of a software called "Quantel Paintbox" for painting.
David Hockney started frequently visiting Yorkshire and in the early 2005, he started creating paintings inspired by the environment in the city.
The artist is the owner of The David Hockney Foundation which was created in 2008.
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.
David's first stage designs were for Ubu Roi, The Rake's Progress and The Magic Flute.
The Photographer and his Daughter (Jim & Chloe McHugh)
Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy
Portrait of John Kasmin
A Play within a Play
Celia in a Black Dress with White Flowers
Martin Kemp and Marina Wallace
Self-Portrait with Charlie
American Collectors (Fred and Marcia Weisman)
Two men in a shower
Place Furstenberg, Paris
Ken Wathey, January 3, 1997
Bigger Trees Near Warter
Interior with Blue Terrace and Garden
The young Hockney believed that life's simple pleasures were often not adequately imitated in art and that in the rush of people's existence they often failed to notice the simplicity and serenity of the world around them. The artist also believed he could reproduce these images through his art and thereby provide people with some of the pleasures they may have overlooked. Hockney felt his work would help people realize that play and its enjoyment was serious work.
"When you are older, you realise that everything else is just nothing compared to painting and drawing."
"A belief is like a guillotine, just as heavy, just as light."
"We grow small trying to be great."
"When you're very young, you suddenly find this marvellous freedom. It's quite exciting, and you're prepared to do anything."
"In the end nobody knows how it's done - how art is made. It can't be explained. Optical devices are just tools. Understanding a tool doesn't explain the magic of creation. Nothing can."
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
David Hockney was able to combine his formidable knowledge relating to the history of art and its techniques with a very unusual insight or sensitivity to the contemporary visual currents. He was able to produce what the public wanted at the time, or more specifically, Hockney was able to create exactly what the art connoisseur thought he wanted. Regardless of the critics' interpretations, the artist developed this keen sense and ability (along with his love of publicity, that at times has been considered flagrant opportunism by his challengers) into an art world marvel that has kept him on the forefront of the American and British art scenes.
Hockney is openly gay, and he openly explored the nature of gay love in his portraiture.