A simple look at the website of David Hockney reveals a multi-talented artist and a pioneering attitude towards various artistic expressions. Paintings, photography, stage design, and digital works are just some of the sections that allow a more in-depth look at the work of one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century, and still active in the new millennium. Born in 1937 in Bradford, England, Hockney gained strong recognition during the Young Contemporaries exhibition at London’s RBA galleries in 1961, when he was regarded as the emerging artist of the pop art. However, though the contribution of Hockney to pop art is valuable, his work cannot be limited to just one artistic movement.
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The early years of the career of David Hockney are marked by intense cultural exchanges with the United States. Travels to the States were a key feature during the 1960s and contributed to shape visions and thoughts of many British artists (Hammer 1). Hockney’s trip across the States was a sort of initiation journey from New York and East Coast to California, and then through Arizona, New Mexico, and Iowa among other states. In those years, pop art was the avant-garde movement, and Hockney’s work is usually associated with it.
However, his paintings can hardly be listed in just one category. For example, already in his first artworks, such as the 1951 Self Portrait and the 1957 Nude, Hockney showed strong impressionist elements. More recently, in the 2000s, Hockney painted a series of landscapes reminding of many impressionist artists (“From 1 March: Hockney – Van Gogh”). The colors utilized in More Felled Trees at Woldgate, or the strokes in the clouds of Early Blossom, Woldgate, remind of Van Gogh.
Besides painting, Hockney has explored various and different art expressions. All along his artistic career, Hockney created several stage design, including Tristan und Isolde in 1987, and Turandot in 1992. During the early 1980s, Hockney used a 35mm Polaroid to create composite patchwork images. Still Life Blue Guitar and Nicholas Wilder Studying Picasso, both from 1982, belong to this period.
The interest of Hockney for photography reflected the attempt of creating a landscape narrative where the viewer could experience movement and time (Adams 1). However, after some years, Hockney abandoned photography to return to painting, which offered a wider range of opportunities to deliver a coherent and personal narrative. In 2012, Hockney resumed the idea in The Biggest Picture, a movie made by three cameras which offered a personal and direct experience of the visiting of an exhibition (“Digital Movies”). The interest of Hockney for technologies led him to be again at the forefront in exploring the opportunities offered by iPhone and iPad: since the late 2000s, he utilized the brush application to draw landscapes, portraits, and still life.
It does not surprise that David Hockney is considered one of the most important living artists. Along with his long-lasting career, Hockney has contributed to shape and develop the global contemporary art scene, starting with the British and American Pop Art during the 1950s, exploring the expression opportunities offered by photography in the 1980s, and pioneering cutting technologies to produce artworks able to create a deep feeling (Taylor 135).
Different techniques and forms of expression have a common feature in the purpose of creating a narrative able to give the viewer a personal and active experience, where time and space are included to make this experience unique.
Adams, Mark. “Curated Paths: A Photographic Exploration of Walking – Non-Perspectival Representations of Northern Landscapes”. Northern Light: Critical Approaches to Proximity and Distance in Northern Landscape Photography, 2018. Web.
“Digital Movies”. DavidHockney. Web.
“From 1 March: Hockney – Van Gogh.” Van Gogh Museum. 2018. Web.
Hammer, Martin. “Between a Rock and a Blue Chair: David Hockney’s Rocky Mountains and Tired Indians (1965)”. British Art Studies, vol.5, ISSN 2058-5462, 2017, pp. 1-30. Web.
Taylor, Lisa. “‘He’s … Making Our North’: Affective Engagements With Place in David Hockney’s landscapes From ‘A Bigger Picture’”. Journal of Audience & Reception Studies, vol. 13, no. 2, 2016, pp. 134-157.