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David Hockney

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David Hockney (b. 1937) is widely considered to be one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, as well as an important contributor to British Pop art. Working in a variety of media as a painter, draftsman, and stage set designer, Hockney is a prolific and experimental printmaker, who started producing prints early in his career, working mainly in etching and lithography, although his printed oeuvre spans a wide range of media, including more recent experimentations with computer and iPad drawings. The most recognizable Hockney themes include portraits of family, friends, lovers and patrons as well as depictions of still lifes, landscapes and pools.

Born in Bradford, UK, he studied at the Royal College of Art in London, where he began to etch when he ran out of money and was told that the graphic department supplied materials for free. Hockney was attracted by the spontaneity of this method that allowed for a vitality of gesture that enlivened his work. While he was still a student, Hockney was asked to participate in the 1961 Young Contemporaries exhibition at the Royal College of Art, which marked the arrival of British Pop art. His works displayed expressionist elements, literary references, and a strong fascination for Picasso’s style, which he explored in his lithographs and etchings in the 1970’s. Hockney continued to turn to printmaking for literary expression throughout his entire career.

Hockney first visited Los Angeles in 1963, and subsequently moved to California the following year. The artist’s decision to live on the American west coast proved critical in the development of his career, and the works produced there went on to count as his most iconic imagery. Upon his arrival to Los Angeles, Hockney’s artistic focus shifted from subjects of personal significance to the dynamic and colorful energy of his new home. It was there that Hockney began painting his famous swimming pools and inserting exotic landscape visuals within his artistic repertoire.

Although Hockney’s prints depict a wide range of subjects, his works often focus on the technical process of depicting a figure rather than the figure itself. The artist’s famous pool scenes, for example, point to a visual appreciation of hedonistic Californian lifestyle, but also signify an effort to tackle the formal problem of how to perceive and represent water. Jarred by the death of Pablo Picasso in 1973, Hockney was introduced to new methods of printing etchings in color. This innovation opened new artistic doors for the artist in terms of printmaking as the artist began to experiment with color prints. Further, in addition to painting and printmaking, Hockney made numerous drawings, unique photo collages, and designed sets for the Royal Court Theater, La Scala, and the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

In 2005, Mary Ryan Gallery held a survey of Hockney’s Pools, created between 1978 and 1980. The gallery has included his prints in numerous group exhibitions.

In 2017 the Tate Britain organized in collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Centre Pompidou in Paris a major retrospective of Hockney’s works. This exhibition proved the most popular in Tate Britain’s history and broke attendance records at the English museum. In 2006, Hockney’s portraits were the subject of major exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Prior retrospective exhibitions had been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, (2006) and the Musée des Arts Decoratifs, Paris (1974).

A forthcoming exhibition surveying Hockney’s drawings is set to be held at the National Portrait Gallery in London in 2020. Hockney’s work has been included in solo and group exhibitions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) (2018), Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg (2018), Kunsthalle Helsinki (2018), Tate Britain (2017), British Museum (2017), J. Paul Getty Museum (2017), Guggenheim Bilbao, ES (2017), National Gallery of Australia, Canberra (2017), Metropolitan Museum of Art (2017), Royal Academy for the Arts, London (2016), Museum Rietberg, Zürich, CH (2016) and the Grand Palais, Paris (2015).

Hockney’s work is in numerous prominent museum collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Baltimore Museum of Art, MD; British Museum, London, UK; Fine Art Museums of San Francisco, CA; Hamburger Kunsthalle, DE; Kunstmuseum, Basel, CH; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; Long Museum, Shanghai, CN; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, DK; Ludwig Museum of International Art, Beijing, CN; Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Museum Ludwig, Cologne, DE; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo JP; Museum of Fine Art, Boston, MA; Museum of Modern Art, NY; National Gallery of Art, Canberra, AT; Royal College of Art, London, UK; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.; Tate Britain, London, UK; Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, IR and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN.
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