David Hockney is one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century. Born in 1937, the world-renowned Pop artist continues to create and exhibit art to this day, as well as advocating for funding for the arts.
New York Giants chairman Steve Tisch and actor Steve Martin are among those who have chosen to invest in David Hockney art as part of their extensive collections.
If you are looking to buy David Hockney art for the home, or as an investment piece, we are immensely proud to represent some of his works at Maddox Gallery. Please get in touch to arrange a visit to one of our locations in central London and see his art for yourself.
An artistic legacy
Hockney’s works are held in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. The artist was also the subject of a comprehensive retrospective at the Tate Gallery in London in 2017.
However, Hockney has refused to accept institutional honours, turning down an invitation to paint the Queen’s portrait (he was “very busy” and couldn’t make it), and to receive the Order of Merit (otherwise known as a knighthood.) “I don’t have strong feelings about the honours system,” he explained.
Hockney credits Picasso, Matisse and Fragonard as influences on his own distinctive style. In turn, his work has inspired artists including Chuck Close, Cecily Brown, and film director Martin Scorsese, and helped to revive the practice of figurative painting.
A brief history of Hockney
David Hockney was born in Bradford, but American movies were a huge influence on his early life. “I was brought up in Bradford and Hollywood,” he often stated.
In 1948, Hockney won a scholarship to the Bradford Grammar School, one of the best schools in the country. In 1953, he enrolled in the College of Art and began painting with oils, his favoured medium of choice for much of his life.
Hockney went on to study at the Royal College of Art in London from 1959, and was taught by several well-known artists including Roger de Grey and Ceri Richards, with his circle of friends including Peter Blake among other up-and-coming artists of the time.
In 1961, Hockney travelled to New York for the first time, visiting the city’s galleries and museums as well as its gay hotspots. He then travelled to Southern California for the first time in 1963 and quickly made Santa Monica his home, alternating living and working between Yorkshire and Los Angeles from that point on.
LA’s laid-back and sunny environment greatly influenced Hockney’s work, with his paintings featuring sculpted men, colourful southern California architecture and swimming pools. He soon became known for large, attention-grabbing works such as A Bigger Splash.
Like other Pop artists, Hockney approached figurative painting in a style that referenced the visual language of advertising. However, he was unique in his obsession with Cubism, combining several scenes to create a composite view, and choosing tricky spaces like split-level Californian homes which offered already-challenging depth perception.
In these acrylic canvases, Hockney developed the style he is most known for today. Flat planes lay side by side, confusing any sense of distance, and shadows appear to be erased.
“In art, new ways of seeing mean new ways of feeling; you can’t divorce the two, as, we are now aware, you cannot have time without space and space without time” – David Hockney
David Hockney art evolves in style
Hockney’s expressionistic style evolved, and by the 1970s he was considered more of a realist. In actively seeking to imitate photographic effects in his work, he can also be considered a forerunner of the Photorealists.
He began creating photo collages he called joiners, laying out Polaroid photos in a grid. Initially created as a reference while working on a painting, Hockney saw the collage as an art form in its own right, and began to create more.
By the mid 1970s, he had all but abandoned painting in favour of projects involving photography, lithographs, and set and costume design for the ballet, opera and theatre.
Hockney later embraced technology as an artistic medium. He created his first prints using a photocopier in 1986, and used laser fax machines and laser printers in 1990 to reproduce some of his own paintings, fascinated by the vibrancy of colour and the ability to share art remotely. Most recently, he has experimented with the Brushes app on iPhones and iPads.
The marriage of art and technology became an ongoing fascination for Hockney, just as it did for Warhol and Opie. By embracing all kinds of technology and media, Hockney made his art accessible to people everywhere, as a form of human interaction and communication.
Personal subjects featured in art
David Hockney has been regarded by some as a playboy of the art world, known for his relationships and connections to exclusive social circles.
However, Hockney differs from other pop artists in his focus on personal subject matter, picturing scenes from his life and that of his friends. His artwork was abstract yet personal, allowing him to deal with human sexuality and love in an open manner.
During his time the Royal College of Art, he used paintings to discuss his vegetarianism, the poetry he enjoyed and even his sexual orientation, writing words such as “queer” and ‘unorthodox lover” in some of his paintings. As an openly gay man and advocate for gay rights, Hockney often chose the colours he used to show support for sexual freedom.