Britain’s beloved David Hockney has a career of breaking taboos and leading the avant-garde – to the point of being recognized as the most influential artist of all time. He is inarguably one of the most successful, and certainly one of the most famous living artists. And in his eighties, Hockney is still very much active, and still making headlines.
One of five children, David Hockney was born into a working-class family in Yorkshire, Northern England, in the industrial city of Bradford. As a schoolboy, he says of himself “I was always quite serious, but cheeky”. Art was something he knew he wanted to do very early in life. At his school academically promising boys were forced to drop art as a subject, so he cheekily failed his exams.
At 16 he was admitted to the acclaimed Bradford School of Art, where he studied traditional painting and life drawing alongside Norman Stevens, David Oxtoby and John Loker. Unlike most of his peers, Hockney was working class, and so worked tirelessly. In 1959 he went on to study at the Royal College of Art in London where he was taught by several well-known artists, including Roger de Grey and Cer Richards.
▲ ‘No. 42’ 16th April 2010, iPad drawing / ‘No. 104’ 10th May 2010, iPad drawing / ‘No. 133’ 28th May 2010, iPad drawing
There he became immersed in the counterculture that created Swinging London in the early Sixties. Hockney’s first show, held in 1963 at John Kasmin’s gallery, proved very successful. The following year he travelled to Los Angeles for the first time, where he met leading intellectual and artistic figures including Christopher Isherwood and designer Ossie Clarke.
Over the following years he resided almost permanently in California, teaching at various universities around the US and Europe. During the period he painted some of his best known works. Painted in 1966, The Splash is as recognisable as Monet’s ‘Waterlilies’, Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ or Munch’s ‘Scream.
By the mid-1970s, he was a household name. In 1976 he published his autobiography and in 1978 settled in Los Angeles, which became his permanent home.
Of his unconventional lifestyle and experimentation with drugs during this period, Hockney has commented: “you can’t have a smoke-free bohemia. You can’t have a drug-free bohemia. You can’t have a drink-free bohemia.”
▲ ‘No. 1061’ 10th November 2011, iPad drawing
During the 2000s, Hockney started producing digital art – art which perfectly reflected his unstoppable imagination and need to explore different image-making possibilities. Regardless of being an elderly gentleman, the artist superbly and meticulously depicts everyday objects, capturing the everyday activity of self-observation and self-articulation. In this beautiful art edition, each image captures a fleeting moment, from the colourful sunrise and lilac morning sky to night-time impressions and the arrival of spring. Fascinating details reveal drops on window panes, distant lights in the night, reflections on glasses, bottles, and vases an abundance of subtly varied vegetation. We experience the passage of time through the eyes of David Hockney
Despite his widespread fame, he remains an iconoclast, steadfastly refusing to accept institutional authority, even some of the highest honours, turning down an invitation to paint a portrait of the Queen (Hockney was “very busy and couldn’t make it”) and the Order of Merit (a knighthood). “I don’t have strong feelings about the honour’s system” Hockney has said. “I don’t value prizes of any sort. I value my friends”.
DAVID HOCKNEY – MY WINDOW
ART EDITIONS (No. 1–1,000) – Four Art Editions of 250 copies (No. 1-250 is sold out). Each with a numbered and signed 8-color inkjet print on cotton-fiber archival paper, 17 x 22 in. (43.2 x 56 cm). Each print comes with the limited-edition volume, signed by the artist.
COLLECTOR’S EDITION (No. 1,001–2,000) – Edition of 1,000 numbered copies, signed by the artist. Hardcover in clamshell box 15.2 x 19.7 in. (38.5 x 50 cm), 248 pages / 1.750€
TASCHEN Store Paris, 2 rue de Buci, 75006 Paris / www.taschen.com