Born in Bradford in 1937, David Hockney is one of the most important and celebrated living artists. He is known and respected as a draughtsman, printmaker, stage designer, photographer and writer.
Most recently the artist has brought to prominence the notion of ‘Digital Art’. Through his innovative use of the Apple iPad and video installations, Hockney has pioneered cutting edge concepts, elevating them to high art and introducing them to a global audience.
The young Hockney displayed a precocious talent for drawing, and at the age of eleven received a scholarship to the prestigious Bradford Grammar School. He would later attend the Bradford College of Art between 1953-7, and was accepted to the Royal College of Art in 1959.
While studying, Hockney began to work in oils in a fairly conservative tradition, and displayed impressive virtuosity in a naturalistic style. After seeing an exhibition of Alan Davie’s work in 1958, Hockney’s style moved toward the avant-garde pop art style with which he is now most often associated.
As a student, Hockney was featured in the Young Contemporaries Exhibition of emerging British Pop Artists alongside Peter Blake. By the time he graduated in 1962, Hockney had already received considerable attention from his tutors, peers, and critics.
In 1963, Hockney travelled to New York and then settled in Los Angeles, where he became fascinated by the underground scene. At this time he began to paint portraits and Malibu-style architecture in bright acrylics. He also began to work with photography and photocollage, and created works of composite Polaroids called ‘Joiners’.
In 1985, Hockney was commissioned to design a cover and a series of pages for the French edition of Vogue and was made Companion of Honour and a Royal Academician in 1997.
From 21 January 2012 to 9 April 2012, the Royal Academy presented A Bigger Picture which included more than 150 works, many of which take entire walls in the gallery’s brightly lit rooms. The exhibition was dedicated to landscapes, especially trees and tree tunnels. Works included oil paintings and watercolours inspired by his native Yorkshire. Around 50 drawings were created on an iPad and printed on paper.
“It’s about big things. You can make paintings bigger. We’re also making photographs bigger, videos bigger, all to do with drawing.”
David Hockney in conversation with Will Corwin, 2012
The exhibition was later presented at the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, Germany, between 27 October 2012 and 3 February 2013.
Hockney continues to inspire generations of artists and lives and works between studios in Yorkshire and California.