Bradford, Yorkshire, England
Painter, draftsman, printmaker, photographer, and stage designer. Works characterized by economy of technique, preoccupation with light, and frank, mundane realism derived from both Pop art and photography. Studied at the Bradford College of Art (1953-57) and the Royal College of Art, London (1959-62), where he received a gold medal in the graduate competition. Visited the United States in 1961, returning in 1964-67 to teach at the universities of Iowa, Colorado, and California. Thereafter commuted between England and the United States until settling permanently in Los Angeles in 1978. The popular myth of Southern California as an earthly paradise of sand, sea, and sky attracted Hockney from the outset. LA's aesthetic had a pronounced influence on his work. Much of subject matter is autobiographical, including portraits and self-portraits. These embody a casual elegance and tranquil luminosity which also predominates in still lifes. An exploration of photography in the 1980s resulted in "Pearblossom Hwy., 11-18th April 1986" and other ambitious photocollages. Hockney has also published several series of graphic works in book form. Hockney is unusual in that he won instant international success while still a student at the Royal College of London. Exceptionally talented, his colorful lifestyle and persona contributed to his sudden and enormous success. Although considered one of the finest living draftsmen of the human figure, Hockney is distinguished above all by his versatility. When choosing subjects, he prefers to draw his own friends, placing them in familiar settings surrounded with common objects. Such situations provide the foil for his interest in light, space, and color. Technical skill and an eye for the exotic enable him to transform and perfect the ordinary. Even works of art depicting everyday objects (vases of flowers, umbrellas, deck chairs) are made exceptional and humanly dramatic. Hockney works simultaneously in multiple media, using painting, photography, drawing, and all methods of printmaking to explore his subjects.