David Hockney – Celebration of Colour

By Dieneke Ferguson

25 April 2017

David Hockney, Los Angeles, 9th March 2016 © David Hockney Photo Credit: Jean-Pierre Gonçalves de Lima

David Hockney, Los Angeles, 9th March 2016. © David Hockney. Photo Credit: Jean-Pierre Gonçalves de Lima

David Hockney at Tate Britain is the most extensive retrospective of his work and is a must-see exhibition. His art is one of the great landmarks of post-modernism and the exhibition offers an unprecedented overview of Hockney’s work to date.

His work over his 60-year career is shown in chronological order and traces his development over time. The exhibition shows how Hockney questioned the nature of pictures and picture-making and challenged their conventions. Hockney’s images, whether in the form of painting, drawing, print, stage design or iPad, have consistently challenged the way we look at the world. His art covers vibrant landscapes, his friends and sun-dappled pools.

Hockney’s work not only uses great colour but it also challenges our relationship to colour as well. Hockney sees the world in unusual ways. Born with synesthesia, he sees synesthetic colours in response to musical stimuli.

"PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST (POOL WITH TWO FIGURES)" 1972 ACRYLIC ON CANVAS 84 X 120" © DAVID HOCKNEY PHOTO CREDIT: ART GALLERY OF NEW SOUTH WALES/JENNI CARTER

“PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST (POOL WITH TWO FIGURES)” 1972. ACRYLIC ON CANVAS. 84 X 120″
© DAVID HOCKNEY. PHOTO CREDIT: ART GALLERY OF NEW SOUTH WALES/JENNI CARTER

Hockney once said:

Water in swimming pools changes its look more than in any other form… its colour can be man-made and its dancing rhythms reflect not only the sky but, because of its transparency, the depth of the water as well. If the water surface is almost still and there is a strong sun, then dancing lines with the colours of the spectrum appear everywhere.”

Born in Bradford in 1937, he enrolled in Bradford School of Art in 1953 where he received a traditional art training based on life drawing and faithful observations of the external world. In 1959 Hockney began a two-year MA Painting course at London’s Royal College of Art. Here students of painting, fashion and design worked closely together and were interested in the interaction of arts, crafts and design. Influenced by an older generation of British artists he began to further blur the distinctions between abstract and representational painting by employing schematic figures particularly in his theme of loving relationships between men.

Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy 1968 Acrylic paint on canvas 2120 x 3035 mm Private collection © David Hockney

Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy. 1968. Acrylic paint on canvas. 2120 x 3035 mm. 
Private collection. © David Hockney

A visit to California inspired him  to make a series of paintings of swimming pools. He moved to Los Angeles in 1964.

In 1974 he was commissioned to design a production of Stravinsky’s opera The Rake’s progress – this promoted him to work with three dimensional models to uncover new ideas of space. That led him to expressive landscapes that favoured the rhythm and harmony of colour over representation.

He simplified the forms of the landscape into a continuous surface pattern of abstract shapes, textured curves and horizontal stripes, the vivid yellows, reds, blues and greens a not to early twentieth century French painting as well as LAs spectacular sunsets.

David Hockney "Going Up Garrowby Hill" 2000 Oil on canvas 84 x 60" © David Hockney Photo Credit: LA Louver, Venice, CA

David Hockney, “Going Up Garrowby Hill” 2000, Oil on canvas, 84 x 60″
© David Hockney, Photo Credit: LA Louver, Venice, CA

In 1982 Hockney temporarily abandoned painting and turned to photo-collage to investigate cubism, pictorial space and how to represent three dimensions in two. Landscape painting became a principle focus for Hockney after 2000, painting the infinitely changing agricultural landscape and seasons of the Yorkshire Wolds. 2006 – Woldgate Woods. Hockney’s large-scale, multi-canvas landscapes recall the fragmented forms of Hockney’s photographic collages of the `80s.

"WOLDGATE WOODS, 6 & 9 NOVEMBER" 2006 OIL ON 6 CANVASES (36 X 48" EACH) 72 X 144" OVERALL © DAVID HOCKNEY PHOTO: RICHARD SCHMIDT

“WOLDGATE WOODS, 6 & 9 NOVEMBER” 2006. OIL ON 6 CANVASES (36 X 48″ EACH). 72 X 144″ OVERALL
© DAVID HOCKNEY. PHOTO: RICHARD SCHMIDT

Between 2008-9 he worked from sketches and memory, using his iPad and in 2010 he extended composite imaging to video so that he could make bigger pictures. Hockney recorded the same journey during each of the four seasons.

Hockney’s work is an inspiration for others and makes us less fearful of colour.

This is the selection of products from Hidden Art designers that fit the bill.

David Hockney

Tate Britain
9th February – 29th May 2017
www.tate.org.uk

 

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