One of the most widelyacclaimed of all living artists, Hockney's popularity is based on the enormous,continuing appeal of his pictures and the popular perception of him as acolorful extrovert. Hockney has worked in a wide variety of media including painting,graphics, photography and theater design as well as a versatile selection ofsubject matter ranging from famous portraits to landscapes of southern California.
Hockney was born in Yorkshire,England in1937. Hockney first came to public prominence in the early sixties, as apost-graduate student of painting at the Royal College of Art in London. He experimentedwith numerous styles and became one of the most important portraitists of hisera, renowned for depictions of family and people he met in his extensivetravels. His work demonstrates a wish to uphold the human figure as a fitsubject of painting, as well as an interest in imagery drawn from the urbanenvironment. Despite his shouting 'I am not a Pop artist' during a private viewparty in 1962, Hockney's student work is conventionally seen as contributing tothe development of Pop Art in Britain.
In 1964, Hockney moved to Los Angeles. In that yeara swimming pool first appeared in the seminal painting, The CaliforniaCollector, and Hockney continued to paint the subject passionately. Inthese early water pictures, Hockney was influenced by the abstract,interlocking puzzle-piece surface of Jean Dubuffet's work. Hockney's early poolwater was stylized in a flat, modern manner in which looping spaghetti likelines complicate the notion of moving water. Over the next several years,portraiture and photography primarily occupied the artist, and he developed anintimate and powerful naturalism in this period.
Hockney abandoned painting fora time in the mid-seventies to concentrate on drawing and print-making. Notmany paintings were produced during the early eighties either, the artistpreferring to spend his time constructing collages from photographs. Thesephoto-collages were recently exhibited in a retrospective of the artist'sphotography at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
Hockney's originality as aprintmaker was apparent by the time he produced A Rake's Progress, aseries of 16 etchings conceived as a contemporary and autobiographical versionof William Hogarth's visual narrative. Hockney's large body of graphic work,concentrating on etching and lithography, in itself assured him an importantplace in modern British art, and in series inspired by literary sources such asIllustrations for Fourteen Poems from C. P. Cavafy, Illustrations forSix Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm, and The Blue Guitar, he didmuch to revive the tradition of the livre d'artiste.
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