Hockney, David

ART HISTORY ON DEMAND > Artists

David Hockney is one of the most popular English artists to emerge after 1945. His depictions of people, landscapes, and interior spaces have earned him both critical and popular acclaim.

Hockney was born in Bradford, England, on July 9, 1937. He displayed a talent for drawing at an early age. After studying at the Royal College of Art in London, Hockney began exhibiting with other young English artists. Together they pioneered British pop art. Pop art derived its imagery from popular culture. Hockney's subjects also included friends and family.

In 1963 Hockney visited Los Angeles, California. The environment he found there forever changed his work. He began depicting swimming pools in his art, capturing the light, color, and comfort of his surroundings. He was interested in the visual effects produced by water glistening in the sun. This can be seen in twelve pool paintings he made between 1965 and 1971. A Bigger Splash (1967), one of Hockney's best-known works, shows the splash left by a submerged diver. In this painting, Hockney solved the problem of depicting a three-dimensional image (the splash) on a two-dimensional surface (the painting): He contrasted the splash with the solid rectangles of color that formed the diving board and house.

Hockney also made cubist-like collages of photographs. An example is Pearblossom Hwy., 11-18th April 1986 (1986). The various images in these works draw the eye to different parts of the work at the same time. This effect is called multiple-point perspective.

Hockney also makes drawings, etchings, and prints, and designs sets for operas. His work is greatly admired for its visual appeal and the many different views of the world it provides.

Molly Donovan
Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art,
National Gallery of Art

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