The notorious Swinging Sixties in the UK couldn’t be imagined without the presence of David Hockney who is certainly more than just a visual artist; he wis a phenomenon of a kind, a one-man show who infuses the zeitgeist with his aesthetic and a specific approach to art and life. Alongside Richard Hamilton, this pioneer of British Pop art proposed at the time bold images soaked with decadence and homoerotic desire. The vibrant pool scenes, the bodies of athletic young men, palm trees, and mesmerizing sunshine quickly made him into a star whose artworks were grabbed by wealthy collectors, adorned by youngsters and embraced by institutions. During the 1970s, Hockney experimented with photography and his photo collages created at the time showed maturity and interest in working with other media. Throughout the decades, the artist flirted with abstraction and figuration while constantly experimenting with cutting-edge technology such as laser photocopiers, fax machines, computers, and even iPhones and iPads.
To celebrate David Hockney's eighty-third birthday this July 9, we selected ten astounding artworks made during different stages of his career that you can add to your collection while reading the text below.
The first artwork on our top list is an Inkjet printed computer drawing on paper made by David Hockney in 2009 and it depicts a sailor smoking a cigarette while gazing provocatively into the observer. This particular representation is most probably affiliated with the queer Imaginarium in which a uniform fetish takes an important place. The sailor is not just a random figure bored to death; rather, he symbolizes the sex appeal, a desire that had to be disguised and hidden for a long time.
Unlike the previous classical figurative drawing, this work is more experimental as it operates with cubist forms juxtaposed against the blank surface. The same was made in 1983 while Hockney was exploring Eastern art, especially Chinese scrolls; during that time, the artist expressed himself with photographic collages by combining numerous Polaroid photographs, taken from varying angles.
Gregory and Shinro on the Train, Japan, 1983 is a photographic collage mounted on board, signed, titled, dated, and numbered '9' in white ink on the mount.
This particular black and white etching and aquatint on Arches paper simply called Sunflowers II was made by Hockney in a limited edition of eighty prints and published in 1995. The artist was fascinated with this motif after Van Gogh’s famous depictions of this flower. This particular sketch-like etching seems to be the preparation for the epic painting 30 Sunflowers produced a year later that marks Hockney’s return to figurative painting after a decade of experimenting with photography.
This particular artwork belongs to Hockney’s iPad series for which he uses the Brushes app to create illustrious drawings most often taken outdoors. These landscapes were critically analyzed by the critics about whether they qualify as art at all, despite the fact Hockney is interested in the technology of art throughout his lasting career (from Polaroids, color photocopiers and fax machines to iPhone).
The artwork My Window is also an iPad drawing and was included in the artist’s book 120 iPhone and iPad drawings. Namely, with his device Hockney tracked the shift of the seasons through the window of his Yorkshire home, so each image features a different moment - from the lilac morning sky to nighttime impressions, branches covered with snow and the arrival of spring. Printed in large format, this is a highly perceptive and poetic body of work.
Made in 2018 the photographic drawing printed on paper called Viewers Looking at a Ready-made Skull and Mirrors captures Hocnkey’s sentiment towards contemporary art. In a humorous fashion, he depicted viewers observing an apparent piece of conceptual art to make a comment on contemporary spectatorship and the institutionalized exhibiting models.
This simplistic and sensitive drawing is the seated portrait of David Hockney’s dear friend Yves-Marie Herve, made in 1974. It captured the incredible psychological depth typical for the artist’s very best portraits. The sitter is practically compared with the fragile flower situated alongside so the work evokes the specificity of the emotional background of the relationship between Hockney and Herve.
When he visited the United States in 1982, David Hockney captured a series of photographs of the Grand Canyon and assembled them in a collage. Four years later he returned to this theme by producing a large-scale photo-collage consisting of sixty photographs; then again in 1997, the artist painted a composition for a bigger Grand Canyon that is a two-decades-long result of close observation and experience of space. By composing the grand image of different views taken over a period of time, Hockney refers to Cubism, Chinese scroll painting, and his own set designs for opera.
This gorgeous poster depicting, as the very title suggests, a Corbusier chair and rug, was made by David Hockney in 1969. Initially, it was published for an exhibition at the Andre Emmerich Gallery, New York that same year, and then reprinted by Petersburg Press in 1981. It can be treated as the artist’s homage to the legacy of interwar modernism, and the domains of a pioneering architect, painter, and designer.
The last artwork on our top list celebrating the birthday of David Hockney depicts the famous Belgian born American curator and art collector Henry Geldzahler whom the artist met in Andy Warhol’s studio in 1963. Gradually, the two became really good friends, and so Geldzahler acted as a sitter for Hockney on numerous occasions, as they spent time traveled the world together.