As the MET bids farewell to the David Hockney retrospective in honor of his 80th year, we pause to celebrate his artistic contribution in the show’s exhibited works from 1960 to the present. The Met’s Gallery 999 on Fifth Avenue in New York City was the sole North American venue for such an experience. This retrospective had come about as a collaboration between The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Tate Britain, London; and the Centre Pompidou, Paris.
Born in Yorkshire, England in 1937, Hockney knew he wanted to be an artist by age ten. He studied as a youth at Bradford Art College, and went on to earn a gold medal upon graduation from the Royal Academy of Art in London. By his mid-twenties he had already achieved international success. It is largely his “Tea Paintings” which contributed to his early recognition as a Pop artist, though he rejected this title.
Known for his sought-after swimming pool paintings of the 1970’s, these works demonstrate the influence cubism had on his process. He painted flat-planed Matisse-inspired, idyllic West-coast domiciles. Hockney is quoted as describing his impression of California from the air:
“As we flew in over Los Angeles I looked down to see blue swimming pools all over, and I realised that a swimming pool in England would have been a luxury, whereas here they are not, because of the climate.”
He seemed to study the representation of water in rippled movement and shimmering reflections of still water, water after a splash, water moved by the human form…
“Water in swimming pools changes its look more than in any other form… its colour can be man-made and its dancing rhythms reflect not only the sky but, because of its transparency, the depth of the water as well. If the water surface is almost still and there is a strong sun, then dancing lines with the colours of the spectrum appear everywhere.” -David Hockney
“A Bigger Splash” is much more than a series of swimming pool paintings. After Hockney relocated to California, Jack Hazan sporadically accompanied Hockney with a camera for over three years. At the close of their time together he assembled the footage into a documentary style biopic somewhat fictionalizing Hockney’s life through the lens of his relationships. The film was released by Hazan in 1974. Evidently, following his viewing of the film, Hockney fell into depression for two weeks. It wasn’t until his friend Betty from Paris, watched the film and heralded it as “…the greatest film on art I’ve ever seen” that he lightened up a bit. Supposedly, there were times Hockney was not actually aware that Hazan’s camera was rolling.
Though most of his swimming pool works were created in acrylics, the span of his work explores many other media such as oils, charcoal drawings, photography, collage, videos, even iPad paintings. In the 1980’s Hockney explored photography and produced many photomontages made up of composite collages of photos. He referred to these photo-collages as “joiners.”
In 2012, Fresh Flowers, a show featuring iPhone- and iPad-made pictures by Hockney premiered at the Foundation of Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent in Paris. The Royal Academy in London exhibited a series of his landscape paintings in 2011 which also explored his use of the iPad and iPhone is his creative process. These were paintings of the countryside in his hometown of Yorkshire, England. In 2012, his digital work was exhibited at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum, or ROM, and, in 2013, at age 76, an exhibit of 150 of Hockney’s iPad images filled San Francisco’s deYoung museum in Golden Gate Park. According to Hockney, “In Rembrandt’s drawings you can see that he worked very fast. That’s what the iPad permits.”
“I draw flowers every day on my iPhone and send them to my friends, so they get fresh flowers every morning.” -David Hockney
Tell me who could not find interest in a mind brimming with innovation and talent whom also reveres his friends with digital renderings of fresh flowers?