How Hockney and Van Gogh Shared The Joy of Nature

February 3, 2019

Over his six decades-long career, David Hockney has redefined the medium of painting. One of the most successful and recognized artists of our time, he is known for stylistic versatility, always choosing to set his own norms.

Best known for paintings of bright swimming pools, split-level homes and suburban Californian landscapes, Hockney returned to his native Yorkshire Worlds in Great Britain in the late 1990s, where he began painting landscape paintings characterized by a sense of serenity.

The upcoming exhibition at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam explores the influence of van Gogh on Hockney's work. Titled Hockney - Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature, it will feature some 120 works, including works such as The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire from 2011, Hockney's intimate sketchbooks and his iPad drawings.

More Felled Trees on Woldgate
David Hockney - More Felled Trees on Woldgate, 2008. Oil on 2 canvases (60 x 48" each) 60 x 96" overall © David Hockney. Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt

Hockney Landscape Paintings

After returning to Yorkshire, David Hockney found new inspiration in the county of his birth, using the landscape he knew so well to create a bold new collection of paintings and sketches. Observing the landscape throughout seasons, the artist managed to capture the constant flux of light, space and nature. Full of light and life, these Yorkshire landscapes offer a vivid insight into the artist’s love of nature.

During the 2000s, Hockney started experimenting with his iPad, continuing to explore different possibilities of image-making. In addition to his landscape paintings, the exhibition will include twenty of these scintillating landscapes created with new technology. The showcase also features videos, watercolors, black-and-white drawings and prints.

Vincent van Gogh - Arles, June 1888
Vincent van Gogh - Arles, June 1888

Van Gogh as an Inspiration

Hockney's landscapes on view reveal a clear link with van Gogh’s landscapes, such as The Harvest from 1888, Field with Irises near Arles from 1888 and The Garden of Saint Paul’s Hospital (Leaf-Fall) from 1889. This is particularly evident in the repetitive lines in the Hockney's The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire which evoke the stylized vertical lines of the tree trunks in the latter work by Van Gogh.

As Axel Rüger, Director of the Van Gogh Museum, highlights, this is the first ever exhibition to explore how Van Gogh influenced Hockney's work, whom he describes as one of the most inspirational artists of our time. As he explains, the influence of Van Gogh on Hockney's colorful landscapes is evident.

Hockey is an artist who always successfully captures the reality of nature and the people around him, as was Van Gogh. Both artists show how nature appears to them.

May Blossom on the Roman Road
David Hockney - May Blossom on the Roman Road, 2009. Oil on 8 canvases (36 x 48" each) 72 x 192" overall © David Hockney. Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt

David Hockney and Van Gogh at the Van Gogh Museum

The exhibition Hockney - Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature will be on view at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam from March 1st until May 26th, 2019.

The acclaimed photographer Rineke Dijkstra created a portrait of the artist, who is now 81 years old, especially for this exhibition.

Featured image: David Hockney - Woldgate Vista, 27 July 2005. Oil on canvas. 24 x 36" © David Hockney. Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt; David Hockney painting "May Blossom on the Roman Road" 2009 © David Hockney. Photo credit: Jean-Pierre. Gonçalves de Lima; David Hockney - Kilham to Langtoft II, 27 July 2005. Oil on canvas, 24 x 36" © David Hockney. Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt. All images courtesy of Van Gogh Museum.

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