David Hockney, the Yorkshire-born artist who has probably become most famous for his depictions of places in California and France (especially as in Normandy, as shown on the home page), is 85 years old. That would be getting on bit to many/most people (OK, make that getting on a lot), but not for him. He is chiefly renowned for his paintings, of course, and he holds the record for one of his works fetching the highest-ever price for a painting by a living artist – Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) was sold for $90 million in New York in 2018 – but he also has a keen eye on the future. “I have always been interested in technology and pictures,” he said recently, and his latest exhibition means the public can immerse themselves in his work simply by sitting in room and allowing it to come to them, frequently with his voice (helpfully subtitled) providing background and explanations.
Over 250 works are shown, and the exhibition surely benefits from the fact that Hockney has created many of his most recent works on an iPad, and here they open out to be displayed in a similar way to that in which he would have created them. “It’s like looking over someone’s shoulder to see them draw,” said the artist himself. Of this specific environment in which to showcase these particular items from his oeuvre, he said: “You’ve got four walls and a floor. It’s a completely new medium really.”
The image above shows one of the two figures referred to in the title of the painting mentioned in the opening paragraph of this blog. The swimmer, Gregory Evans, and Hockney shared a 10-year long personal relationship in the 1970s-’80s. I have at home a poster of the painting from a Hockney retrospective exhibition I went to at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in the summer of 1988. To think Hockney is still going strong 35 years on from then! That’s another great thing about this new exhibition; the artist is still around to make sure his old works are being displayed in a futuristic, and fantastical, fashion today.
The show lasts around 50 minutes, meaning you can leave at the point at which you entered. Or you could just watch it all again.
David Hockney’s exhibition, Bigger & Closer (not smaller and further away), is at the Lightroom, King’s Cross, until June 4.