David Hockney was born in 1937 and is famous for his portraits, paintings, and photomontages. He is considered one of the most influential British artists of the twentieth century.
While still a student at the Royal College of Art in England, the young artist was featured in an exhibition that announced the arrival of British Pop Art. He became associated with that movement but he went on to explore many ideas and styles.
Hockney travelled to America in the 1960’s. During his visit to Los Angeles, he was inspired to paint swimming pools. He used a new medium, acrylic paint, to create vibrant, expressive images. They combined Cubism and Realism to capture the electric beauty of moving, sunlit water.
Soon after, Hockney was working on a painting of a living room in L.A. He took Polaroid photographs of the room and glued them together for reference. When he saw the photos all together, he realized that they told a story. The collected images made viewers feel like they were moving through the living room. After this discovery, Hockney stopped painting for a while so that he could create more of these photomontages. He called them “Joiners.”
Hockney returned to painting with a fresh appreciation of Cubism and how human vision works. He made prints, portraits of friends, and designed sets for the Metropolitan Opera House. Then, in 1998, he used the lessons he learned from his Joiners to create a masterwork; A Bigger Grand Canyon is a series of 60 paintings that combine to create one enormous picture of the Grand Canyon. The piece was sold to the National Gallery of Australia for $4.6 million.
Hockney continues his investigations of photography, technology, human vision, and art. In 1985, he accepted an invitation to draw with the Quantel Paintbox, a computer program that allowed the artist to sketch directly onto the monitor screen. The technology helped lay the groundwork for modern computer design programs like Photoshop. In 2001, Hockney presented his theory that Old Master artists might have used a special device called a camera obscura to create some of the world’s most famous paintings. The idea made a lot of people angry but it did show how artists used photographic technology as early as the Renaissance. Since 2009, Hockney has made drawings using the Brushes application on his iPhone:
“It’s always there in my pocket,” Hockney said. “One can set to work immediately, there’s this wonderful impromptu quality, this freshness, to the activity; and when it’s over… you hit Send, and your little cohort of friends around the world gets to experience a similar immediacy. There’s something, finally, very intimate about the whole process.”
David Hockney continues to live and work in London and Yorkshire in England. His art appears in galleries and museums around the world. You can keep up with the artist and his work online at Hockneypictures.com.
Portrait drawn by yours truly.