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David Hockney: Take a Virtual Tour of the Celebrated London Exhibition

Often lauded as Britain’s greatest living painter, David Hockney is an artist who has acquired a reputation for fearless experimentation. Playing with time and space, reality and illusion, this pop artist from Bradford is known for breaking rules and raising provocative subject matter in his paintings.

Hockney studied at the prestigious Royal College of Art, during which he became a key figure in the gay rights movement. His experiences shaped his work and he created some of the most sought-after and iconic pieces of the 1960s. His work is beautifully observational and explores the challenges of representation.

The current Hockney Exhibition at London’s Tate Britain celebrates 60 years of the artist. Arranged almost chronologically, the twelve areas of the exhibition take visitors through a transitional journey. Curated by Christ Stephens and Andrew Wilson, this exhibition is the largest presentation of the artist’s work ever staged and reminds us that he was always questioning our perception of the world we see around us. 

Delighting visitors since its opening in February 2017, the exhibition will be moving on to Paris and New York after closing in London on the 29th of May.

Grace & Green took a closer look at four of the more significant areas of this must-see exhibition. 

Area 4: Sunbather

Peter Getting Out of Nick's Pool, by David Hockney (1966)

As a twenty-something in Santa Monica, David Hockney was living the dream, daringly expressing a homo eroticism that was not yet accepted in 1960s England.  This collection groups together paintings depicting naked, athletic men sunbathing in dreamy swimming pools, with modern architecture.  Swirly blue and pink waters and perfectly mowed green lawns make for one of the most startlingly beautiful rooms of the exhibition; it contains many visitor favourites. Named after one of the artist’s most famous paintings, this period signifies the journey Hockney takes towards naturalism.

Area 5: Towards Naturalism

Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy 1968, David Hockney 

In stark contrast to the preceding rooms, visitors in Area 5 are wowed with near life-sized portraits of two people in confined spaces, showcasing Hockney’s interest and exploration of intimate and complex relationships.

Featuring his parents and other married couples, new and old, paintings with these proportions require meticulous planning and accuracy. Artists often take photographs of their subjects to work from such a scale, yet Hockney chose to paint figures from life, indicating his sheer technical ability as an artist. This section shows the artist’s playfulness between flatness and depth and (as always) naturalism and artifice.

Area 6: Close Looking

Ossie Clark, by David Hockney 1970

“Drawing makes you see things clearer and clearer and clearer still, until your eyes ache,”said David Hockney, which is reflected in the sixth room’s name. The halfway point of the exhibition, visitors are greeted with pen and ink drawings that date back to Hockney’s formative teenage years. Showing times of travel and tales of friendship, many of the drawings in this room celebrate Hockney’s belief that drawing is a way of observing life more intently.

Area 9: Experiences of Places

Going up Garrowby Hill, by David Hockney (2000)

Sometimes regarded less favourably than his earlier work, Experiences of Places looks at Hockney's work from the late 1990s. Brightly-hued landscapes playfully pull the gaze in different directions through bendy roads and windy trees and represent a new era for the artist. With each landscape painted over six separate canvases, Hockney pays homage to the countryside he would see driving from his mother's seaside home to York, as well as American vistas. They have influences from Picasso and his later work as a stage designer. 

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Written by Louise Bonner, Edited by Skye Rytenskild.

All images provided by Tate Britain 

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