David Hockney (b. 1937)

David Hockney studied at Bradford College of Art from 1953 to 1957, and at the Royal College of Art in London from 1959 to 1962. The 1960 exhibition, 'Picasso', at the Tate Gallery, London made a deep impression on him, and the following year he went to New York for the first time, then travelled onwards to Egypt and Los Angeles in 1963, and to France and Italy in 1967. During his time in the USA, Hockney held several teachings posts: at the University of Iowa in 1964; at the University of Colorado in 1965; and in Los Angeles from 1966 to 1967. From 1968 to 1971 he travelled in Europe, the USA, Japan, Indonesia, Myanmar and Hawaii. He lived in Paris from 1973 to 1974, then returned to the USA in 1976. Hockney won a number of prizes and was awarded several honours: he graduated from the Royal College of Art with a gold medal in 1962; in 1963 he won the prize for the drawing at the Paris Biennale in 1963, and the prize for printmaking prize at the Ljubljana Biennale; and he won first prize at the 6th John Moores Exhibition in Liverpool in 1966. He was elected a member of the Royal Academy in 1991.


He was regarded as one of the leaders of British Pop Art after the Young Contemporaries Exhibition in 1961. From 1965, Hockney worked in an abstact Expressionist style. Soon afterwards, as Hockney became interested in visual appearance, his style became highly figurative. Although his work was clearly influenced by the realism of Pop Art, the nearest he came to being a Pop artist was in his choice of subject matter, which is often taken from ordinary, albeit quite sophisticated, daily life. In 1963, in the drawings of Egyptian scenes commissioned by the Sunday Times (but never used), his style became more concise and objective. 


At the end of the 1970s, Hockney's work took another change of direction. Abandoning this rigorous style, he began to paint in a more intuitive, sensual way, with graceful touches reminiscent of Matisse and expressing the sensuous pleasure of painting. This was also a time when Hockney was frequently travelling, spending long stretches of time abroad, and his work reflects these stimulating episodes.


Hockney's stay in California in 1971-1972 was an important time, primarily in his personal life but also as a painter. The pleasant climate, the relaxed way of life and the ease and luxury of Californian life are all expressed in Hockney's well-known swimming-pool paintings. In 1978, still on the swimming-pool theme, Hockney experimented with a new technique. He made paper pulp, coloured it and pressed it into moulds. He produced 29 paintings in this way, the largest consisting of several canvases. Very early on in his career he began to work with Polaroids, which offered boundless possibilities for brilliantly representing three dimensions on a flat surface. Later, in 1986, he began to work with photocopies and also produced many collages.


Hockney had major retrospectives at the Royal Academy, London, titled A Bigger Pictur and at the Guggenheim, Bilbao in 2012. 


Text Source: Benezit Dictionary of Artists