David Hockney self-portrait, ‘eyeballed’.
The above picture shows David Hockney still active and still exploring both painting but also observing.
David Hockney is now aged 83. He was born July the 9th 1937 in Bradford, Yorkshire UK.
Although he now spends much of his time in California USA, he has remained quintessentially a Yorkshire man.
He came to prominence during the Pop Art era in the UK in the ’60s. David Hockney moved to Los Angeles in 1964. A Bigger Splash was painted in 1967 in California. This was a key painting from this period. It was very much in the pop art style but shows David Hockney’s fascination with observation. In this painting, he tries to capture the transparent nature of water as well as the nature of the splash itself.
A Bigger Splash 1967, California.
He shows no signs of slowing up. He claims that painting keeps him young. He has always remained curious. Simply type in David Hockney into YouTube and you will see a whole range of different programs he has contributed to.
Apart from being a consummate painter and draughtsman, David Hockney has used printing, lithography, and etching, as well as producing stage sets for opera and theatre. He has a keen interest in photography of all kinds.
He has also explored a whole range of different media. This has included a variety of print mediums, photo collage, Polaroids, and the use of the iPad and Quantel Paintbox.
David Hockney is very erudite and knowledgeable when it comes to his art and art in general. He is also fascinated by the ‘Old Masters’ and art history, plus the role of photography in art.
This is brought out brilliantly in his BBC documentary ‘The Secret Knowledge’ and the role of the camera obscura in art. He shows a more thorough knowledge of art history. David Hockney can understand the great artists of the past because he is an artist himself. This gives him a special insight into the history of art.
I want to focus on one important aspect of David Hockney’s art, what he calls ‘eyeballing’.
Eyeballing is observational art. This has always been an important aspect of his work as an artist. The whole process of recording what we see fascinates him.
Also, by keeping this focus he has kept his mind alert. David Hockney has never stopped exploring how we depict the 3D world into 2D.
He is still a consummate draftsman and painter. David Hockney can combine the traditional use of direct observational drawing with the use of modern technology.
His work has ranged from the task of trying to depict the vastness of the Grand Canyon in large canvases based on photography in 1982. David Hockney then went onto produce photo collages in 1986. He produced 60 oil painted canvases in 1998, called the Bigger Grand Canyon. This is considered to be one of his greatest works to date.
The Bigger Canyon 1998
David Hockney also stays true to his roots. This is very much the case with his Portrait of Friends, traditional observational life drawings and paintings exhibited in the London National Portrait Gallery in 2020 of his friends.
From Portrait of Friends 2020
David Hockney rose to prominence in the early 1960s with the Pop Art movement. He could easily have stayed with the style of art he produced then, and rested on his laurels, but no. You can think of many in the world, music, literature, and movies where this could be the case.
Mr. and Mrs. Clark and Percy 1970-1971
However, David Hockney has continued to explore, question, investigate and experiment. Keen to share his thoughts and ideas. A role model for growing old?
There is a humanity in David Hockney’s work. The style is always David Hockney but his work was not just about style.
Here are some quotes from David Hockney from his broadcasts and interviews.
“When I paint I feel I am 30.”
‘You really have to look.”
“All about looking.”
“I have painted for 60 years and have enjoyed it enormously.”