David Hockney at Pace Gallery

By Peggy Roalf   Wednesday May 9, 2018

David Hockney, England’s most celebrated living artist, took New York by storm this spring: first with the major retrospective at The Met [featured in DART]; then with his cover for The New Yorker’s April 23 travel and food issue; and concurrently, a major show of recent work at Pace Gallery, which is closing this Saturday. Info

An artist who has made swimming against the tide a trademark—first creating figurative work when abstraction was considered the apex in art; then using one-hour photoprints to make collages [which he called “joiners”] in the early 1980s when neo-expressionism was on trend; more recently creating narrative paintings at the height of the conceptual art movement, which have inspired hundreds of others to follow his lead; and currently bringing portraiture back to the forefront. 


David Hockney. In the Studio, December 2017, 2017. Photographic drawing printed on seven sheets of paper, mounted on seven sheets of Dibond. Photograph courtesy Pace Gallery. © 2018 David Hockney.

Now in his 80thyear, Hockney has made happiness—expressed through bright colors and fun subject matter—central to a body of work that continues to expand at an extraordinary pace. Best of all, from my point of view, his talent and production are so ingrained that he has no reason to disguise his influences, seen in recent work to include Grant Wood and the Dutch artist Meindert Hobbema, whose The Avenue at Middelharnis (1689) informed his recent New Yorker cover.

Left: David Hockney at the opening of “David Hockney: Something New in Painting (and Photography) [and even Printing]” at Pace Gallery in New York. Photo by Max Lakner/BFA, courtesy of Pace Gallery.David Hockney’s ’82 Portraits (on view at LACMA); photo courtesy the museum. Info

Among the highlights of the Pace Gallery show are a group of portraits from a series of 82 done over the last couple of years. Each of his subjects, all friends of Hockney’s that include notable Los Angelenos such as Frank Gehry and the local car-wash guy, sat for about 20 hours over a few days against the same blue backdrop. The protean artist, who pretty much has given up having a social life due to his deafness, continues to create rules to keep his art practice from spiraling out of control. Bravo, David Hockney!

Something New in Painting (and Photography) [and even Printing], through May 12 at Pace Gallery. 510 West 25thStreet, NY, NY Info

Pace has published a catalogue to accompany the exhibition that includes an essay by art historian and Hockney scholar Lawrence Weschler. Info


Questions for David Hockney from British artists and designers, in The Guardian

Do you have the same passion for making artwork that you had when you were younger? David Shrigley, artist
Even more. I’m working more now than I did 20 years ago, producing more. Probably because I’m surer of things. I’m quite confident about what I’m doing. I know it’s interesting. I know because I see other people’s work and I know, mine is different. I know I’m on my own really a bit. I like [your] work, I saw [your] show at the Hayward. Very, very good, I thought. A memorable show.

Do you still draw in the more traditional way, in the way you first did when you left the Royal College? Paul Smith, fashion designer
Yeah, I draw, I do. In 2013, I did about 30 portraits, charcoal drawings, quite conventional really, but not that conventional. They took two days to draw. From the age of 16 to the age of 20, all I did was really draw, because I was at the art school in Bradford and in Bradford you could be in the school from nine in the morning to nine at night, because as a full-time student, you could go in the evenings and you’d have a life class then. So I drew for four years. Well, you get better if you do this, anybody would, but not many people even try it now, that’s the problem. I did and I got better quickly.

I don’t know what art schools are like now, but I’m told they don’t do drawing. That seems a bit mad to me that. Drawing is going to be needed in the future. Video games and things, that’s people drawing. It’s always back to the drawing board. Always. Even on the computer, it’s back to the drawing board.

David Hockney’s ’82 Portraits (on view at LACMA); photo courtesy the museum. Info

How did you come up with such a good way of dressing? Was it deliberately thought-out or a chance experiment that worked well? Bella Freud, fashion designer
It was chance experiment! I don’t know, my father was a dandy. He always wore suits and they were always made for him. He didn’t earn much money, but in those days, people had suits made. He just had them made in Bradford. Now, I have about 10 suits and that’s all I wear really. Fallan & Harvey in Savile Row made them for maybe 20 years or something. And I paint in them, there’s ones that are messier than others. But that’s all I wear.

When you are a young artist, you want to attract attention. You need to, but once you’d attracted attention that was it. I don’t really think about it much, I just put on something. Today I put these newer trousers on. Well, they are newer than the old ones.

How is drawing different using the iPad? Does drawing with the iPad give you the same feeling as drawing on paper? Yinka Shonibare, artist
Well, no it doesn’t, because you are drawing on a sheet of glass. But on an iPad you can draw for ever and you can’t on a sheet of paper. And on an iPad you draw a bit differently, but that’s all you do. Drawing is 50,000 years old, isn’t it? I think it comes from very deep within us actually. When all those people in the 1970s were trying to give up drawing, I did go and see them and they said: “Oh, you don’t need to draw now.” And I did point out: “Well, why don’t you tell that to that little child there? Tell them you don’t need to draw and see what happens.” Young people draw, they start making marks, everybody does.


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