Widely regarded as one of the most recognised artists of our time, David Hockney’s continuing cultural relevance is shown in an extensive retrospective opening at Tate this February. From a celebration of his achievements in painting, drawing, print and video, the gallery offers an unprecedented overview of his career. From bursting into the artistic limelight as a student in the early 1960s, it takes a chronological approach, charting iconic works throughout the 1970s, to his recent success at the Royal Academy and across the world.
Hockney has a profound interrogation of the essence of art at the core of his oeuvre: for over six-decades he has questioned both the nature of images and the conventions of picture-making. A combination of parody and self-reflection, alongside representation and artifice, define the work as one of the influential elements of postmodernism. The first two decades of his practice, including intimate portraits of his family, Self-Portrait with Blue Guitar (1977) and iconic images of LA swimming pools, mark the invention of a witty and brilliant style. Progressing through time, the exhibition also encompasses the praised depictions of Yorkshire landscapes, Bigger Trees Near Warter (2007), from the dawn of the 21st century, alongside compositions made since his return in 2013.
Together with demonstrating the prolific nature of his legacy, Tate also highlights frequent changes to his aesthetic style and investigation with new technologies. The roots of each new creative journey can be identified in the compositions that came before, an element of Hockney’s practice that the exhibition explores in detail. For example, the influence of the famous Pearlblossom Highway (1986) can be seen in the paintings of his Hollywood home and the surrounding Californian landscapes. Furthermore, abstract works from the 1990s influenced his perception of both Yorkshire and the Grand Canyon. “David Hockney is without doubt one of Britain’s greatest living artists” notes Tate Britain’s Director Alex Farquharson, “his impact on post-war art, and culture more generally, is inestimable, and this is a fantastic opportunity to see the full trajectory of his career to date.”
David Hockney, Tate Britain, London, 9 February – 29 May. For more information: www.tate.org.uk
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1. David Hockney, Billy + Audrey Wilder (1982). Courtesy of the artist and Tate.