First gaining attention in the 1960s Pop era with his brightly colored portraits and landscapes, David Hockney (UK, b. 1937) has remained a constant presence in contemporary art, revisiting and reinterpreting favorite themes over six decades through experimentation with a range of media, from painting and printmaking to theater set design and, more recently, digital media. Hockney is now considered not only one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century but also a key contributor to the art of Los Angeles, his adopted hometown. Drawn from the Walker’s substantial holding of works by Hockney—including paintings, prints, drawings, and theatrical works—David Hockney: People, Places & Things covers the full arc of the artist’s career.
The exhibition is divided into several sections, beginning with a selection of works on paper featuring Hockney’s intimate portraits of friends, lovers, and family members. Another grouping focuses on his passion for still lifes and simple domestic scenes. One recurring subject for the artist is the Southern California swimming pool, which he explores through a range of works.
Designing sets for stage and opera productions has been an important part of Hockney’s artistic activity through the decades, and was the focus of the 1983 Walker exhibition Hockney Paints the Stage. This presentation includes the artist’s tour-de-force set design for Poulenc’s opera Les Mamelles de Tirésias (The Breasts of Tirésias) (1983).
Hockney’s career-long engagement with the subject of landscape, from the Hollywood Hills to Mexico to Yorkshire, England, is the subject of another group of works. The section features large-scale prints from the artist’s travels as well as more recent explorations of landscape made using digital media, such as an iPad. Together, the personal and often exuberant works in the exhibition show an artist consistently engaged with experimentation through decades of art-making and self-reflection.
Siri Engberg, senior curator and director, Visual Arts.