Sunday, October 27, 2013
David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition
The 76-year-old British artist David Hockney is receiving a huge exhibition of his work from the last 15 years at the de Young Museum through January, and it's a sensational show. Hockney has decamped from the Hollywood Hills to the Yorkshire countryside for long stretches over the last decade, becoming an English landscape painter with a twist. As you can see above in Under the Trees, Bigger, 2001, Oil on 20 Canvases, the scale of his work has become enormous, the colors wildly saturated, and the style freer.
In the 1950s, Hockney was a figurative painter when abstraction was the predominant art world flavor. In the 1960s and 1970s after a move to Los Angeles, his acrylic portraits became instantly iconic, usually involving friends and lovers, and often featuring perfectly distilled swimming pools. In the 1980s, he experimented with photography in a series of marvelous cubist Polaroid portraits while also designing sets for a half-dozen opera productions around the world. In the 1990s, he returned to painting with a vengeance, focusing on monumental landscapes such as The Black Glacier, Watercolor on 6 Sheets of Paper above.
While visiting his ailing mother and a dying friend in the Yorkshire countryside during the 1990s, he became fascinated with the landscape and its "tree tunnels," which he has captured in a series of fractured, multi-screen videos...
...and huge, gorgeous paintings such as Bigger Trees near Warter, Summer 2008, Oil on 9 Canvases above.
Though Hockney spends most of his time in England these days, he still considers himself a binational Californian, and has played with large landscape work at American monuments such as the Grand Canyon and Yosemite III, October 5th 2011, iPad drawing on 6 Sheets of Dibold above. Yes, you read that correctly. Hockney is now using the iPad to paint with a freedom and simplicity that feels brand new for him.
Hockney continues to paint his trademark portraits and there is a large selection of them in the exhibit, such as The Photographer and His Daughter above...
...and at least three representations of his striking Parisian studio/plein air assistant with the formidable name of Jean-Pierre Goncalves de Lima.
He also continues to explore photography, and there is a room devoted to his series of short films that he calls Video Cubism.
At a press preview, the Fine Arts Museum President Dede Wilsey gave a condescending speech about how artistic geniuses weren't necessarily "charming," but that David Hockney was, "with a constant twinkle in his eye."
The artist himself was in attendance, answering questions that had been submitted on postcards and emails in advance. This may have been because he has been hard of hearing for decades, but in any case Dede was right, and he was charming. The first question was, "Since the exhibition starts with work from 2002 to the present, is there any significance to the year 2002 for you?" His answer was, "The exhibition actually starts with work from 1998, so no, the year 2002 has no special meaning for me at all."