First gaining attention in the 1960s with his exuberant portraits and landscapes, David Hockney (UK, b. 1937) remains one of the most celebrated British artists of his generation. He is also a key contributor to the development of art in Los Angeles, one of his adopted homes. Drawing upon the Walker’s deep holdings of Hockney’s work, this exhibition presents a broad selection of the artist’s prints, paintings, drawings, and recent digital works.
For more than six decades, Hockney has engaged with subjects chronicling the world around him, which appear in his art with loving attention to detail, exceptional draftsmanship, and a passion for bold color. This exhibition includes portraits of the artist’s close friends and family; a selection of domestic scenes, from delicate still lifes to vividly hued interiors; and a range of landscapes depicting views from the Hollywood Hills to Mexico to the English countryside.
A special section of the exhibition highlights Hockney’s engagement with literature and the theater. Designing sets for stage and opera productions has long been an important part of his artistic activity and was the focus of the 1983 Walker exhibition Hockney Paints the Stage. An ambitious set design presented then will be on view for the first time in nearly 40 years.
Hockney’s interest in exploring varied techniques of image-making is evident throughout the exhibition. During the 1970s, he depicted sun-dappled swimming pools through innovative works made from dyed and pressed paper pulp. In the 1990s, he began using the fax machine—then a new technology—as a means of transmitting spontaneous line drawings to a printed page. More recently, he has created everyday scenes that are “made for printing” by drawing on an iPad. In revisiting favorite themes, Hockney’s art evolves, as his experimentation and spirit of self-reflection continues to surprise and delight.
Siri Engberg, senior curator and director, Visual Arts
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