David Hockney is an English painter, draughtsman, printmaker, stage designer and photographer. He is based in Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire and Kensington, London. An important contributor to the Pop art movement of the 1960s, he is considered one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century.
Hockney was born in Bradford and was educated at Bradford College of Art and the Royal College of Art in London. At the Royal College of Art, Hockney featured in the exhibition Young Contemporaries that announced the arrival of British Pop art. He was associated with the movement, but his early works display expressionist elements, not dissimilar to some works by Francis Bacon. When the RCA said it would not let him graduate in 1962, Hockney drew the sketch The Diploma in protest. He had refused to write an essay required for the final examination, saying he should be assessed solely on his artworks. Recognising his talent and growing reputation, the RCA changed its regulations and awarded the diploma.
A visit to California, where he subsequently lived for many years, inspired him to make a series of paintings of swimming pools in the comparatively new acrylic medium rendered in a highly realistic style using vibrant colours. The artist moved to Los Angeles in 1964, returned to London in 1968, and from 1973 to 1975 lived in Paris. He moved to Los Angeles in 1978.
Hockney is openly gay, and unlike Andy Warhol, whom he befriended, he openly explored the nature of gay love in his portraiture. Sometimes, as in We Two Boys Together Clinging (1961), named after a poem by Walt Whitman, the works refer to his love for men. Already in 1963, he painted two men together in the painting Domestic Scene, Los Angeles, one showering while the other washes his back. In summer 1966, while teaching at UCLA he met Peter Schlesinger, an art student who posed for paintings and drawings. On 18 March 2013, Hockney's 23 year old assistant, Dominic Elliott, died as a result of fall at the artist's Bridlington studio, in the early morning. Elliott was a first- and second-team player for Bridlington rugby club. It was reported that Hockney's partner had driven Elliott to Scarborough General Hospital where he later died.
Hockney painted portraits at different periods in his career. From 1968, and for the next few years he painted friends, lovers, and relatives just under lifesize and in pictures that depicted good likenesses of his subjects. Hockney's own presence is often implied, since the lines of perspective converge to suggest the artist's point of view.On arrival in California, Hockney changed from oil to acrylic paint, applying it as smooth flat and brilliant colour. In the early 1980s, Hockney began to produce photocollages, which he called "joiners," first using Polaroid prints and subsequently 35mm, commercially-processed color prints. Using Polaroid snaps or photolab-prints of a single subject, Hockney arranged a patchwork to make a composite image. Because the photographs are taken from different perspectives and at slightly different times, the result is work that has an affinity with Cubism, one of Hockney's major aims.
Hockney returned more frequently to Yorkshire in the 1990s, usually every three months, to visit his mother who died in 1999. He rarely stayed for more than two weeks until 1997, when his friend Jonathan Silver who was terminally ill encouraged him to capture the local surroundings. He did this at first with paintings based on memory, some from his boyhood. Hockney returned to Yorkshire for longer and longer stays, and by 2005 was painting the countryside en plein air. He set up residence and an immense redbrick seaside studio, a converted industrial workspace, in the seaside town of Bridlington, about 75 miles from where he was born. The oil paintings he produced after 2005 were influenced by his intensive studies in watercolor.
Since 2009, Hockney has painted hundreds of portraits, still lifes and landscapes using the Brushes iPhone and iPad application, often sending them to his friends.
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