The British artist David Hockney was born in Bradford, Yorkshire on July 9, 1937. He attends the College of Art in Bradford from 1953 to 1957, and the Royal College of Art in London as of 1959, completing in 1962.
David Hockney's early works seek obvious orientation with current artistic ways of expression, such as Abstract Expressionism, paintings by Jean Dubuffet and Art Brut. However, he soon counts among the representatives of Pop-Art, and cares little about styles and schools.
He meets Henry Geldzahler in Los Angeles in 1963, who is the curator of the department of 20th century art at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The long friendship gives Hockney many impulses, and Geldzahler also becomes his patron.
Hockney goes to California in the early 1960s. Between 1968 and 1975 he stays in London and Paris for a longer time.
David Hockney receives some lectureships, teaching in Iowa City in 1963-64, in Boulder, Colorado in 1955-66 as well as in Los Angeles and in Berkeley in 1966-67.
Characteristic for his art is the clear and cool use of forms and the integration of autobiographic details. Ideas are captured with a Polaroid camera or in a swift sketch, and later on transformed into a smooth and shiny painting. He starts using acrylic as of 1964. The "Shower-Pictures" (1963) originate from snapshots under the shower, followed by the "Swimmingpool-Pictures", calm, almost static snapshots, on which only the water shows motion. In a hedonistic atmosphere, he places friends, collectors and patrons in a marginal position on the image. He also makes portraits of the same people in almost empty rooms or vast housing areas.
As of the mid 1970s, David Hockney also makes stage designs, for example for "The Rake's Progress" by Strawinsky at the Glyndebourne Opera in 1975, and "The Magic Flute" by Mozart in 1978 for the same house. He also does several designs for the Metropolitan Opera in New York as of 1981, in 1983 for the Eye and Ear Theatre in New York. In 1987 he makes the stage design for "Tristan" at the Los Angeles Music Center Opera, the stage for "Die Frau ohne Schatten" (The Woman without a Shadow) by Richard Strauss at the Royal Opera House in London in 1992. In his last works Hockney's tendency towards a synesthetic Gesamtkunstwerk is unmistakable.
The work group of photo collages originates from the late 70s, collages that he puts together from numerous Polaroid shots. Each photo is a facet of the whole, so that the collage seems like an image in a cracked mirror. These works are an example of Hockney's late examination of Picasso's works and Cubism. As of the late 1980s, he also deals with new media, making multicolor copy prints and abstract computer prints.
David Hockney lives and works in London and Los Angeles.
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