January 2, 2018

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Celebrates David Hockney's Life With a Retrospective

In its only North American stop, a major retrospective reveals the colors of David Hockney's life.

by Deborah L. Martin

Henry Geldzahler & Christopher Scott (1969). Images: Courtesy ©David Hockney/©TATE, London 2017; ©David Hockney/Richard Schmidt.


Pool and Steps, Le Nid du Duc, (1971).

TO CELEBRATE DAVID HOCKNEY'S 80TH YEAR, The Metropolitan Museum of Art joins Tate Britain, London and the Centre Pompidou, Paris, to organize a major retrospective of the artist's 60-year career. The exhibition at The Met marks the only North American stop for this grand overview of Hockney's groundbreaking work. Born in West Yorkshire in 1937, Hockney moved to London in 1959 to study at the Royal College of Art. In 1961, the Museum of Modern Art acquired two of his prints, and his early successes and his willingness to flaunt societal and artistic conventions made him an almost immediate darling in the art world. His works from the 1960s often reference homoerotic subject matter, and his studies of figuration broke every rule. The exhibition is an in-depth look at Hockney's achievements across all media, including painting, drawing, photography, and video, and will showcase his wit and intelligence, as well as his exploration of movement, space, and time in two dimensions. Included in the exhibition will be many of his works from California in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as double portraits from New York and London, examining the tension that exists in social relationships. Hockney also often attempted to depict transparency in his paintings, and he explored that concept with images of glass and water. In works from the late 1970s and 1980s, he employed a brightly hued palette and fractured cubism to change perspective, and his interest in the works of Picasso and his experiments with Polaroid photography are mirrored in his work of this period. More recently, the artist has been painting the landscape of his native land, studying the effects of color and the changing seasons, while also returning to the idea of examining the tensions between figures in social groupings. In addition, he has been experimenting with both a Renaissance camera lucida, as well as colorful compositions using digital technology—explorations that are also included in the exhibit. His current work—a series of neon-toned landscapes painted in Southern California beginning in 2013—are making their only United States appearance as part of this show.

David Hockney, November 27–February 25, 2018; metmuseum.org

Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy (1968).
Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy (1968).

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