The colourful and enthralling works of contemporary art’s painter, draughtsman, printmaker, stage designer and photographer David Hockney (b.1937 -) showcase his inventiveness, innovation, courage, creativity and wonderful flexibility. He has an extraordinary ability to move with the times, embracing new technology along the way.
Today David Hockney is possibly England’s most famous living artist. He lived five decades of his productive working life living in Los Angeles where The J. Paul Getty Trust is devoted to the visual arts.
An aspect of the J.Paul Getty Museum’s mission is to deepen knowledge of, and connection to, works of art and Mr Hockney’s works engage viewers on so many levels, his images draw them in, remarkable images they can instantly relate to.
The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center in the city of angels, will present two exhibitions of rarely seen works by the acclaimed artist under the title Happy Birthday Mr Hockney. Self Portraits starts June 27 and Photographs starts July 18, ending together on November 26, 2017.
From a 35mm camera in the 60’s documenting his family, friends, holidays and celebrations, Mr Hockney next began using a Polaroid SX-70. His photo collages anticipated the digital layering and compositing of images that became possible with computer software as he advanced forward.
The exhibitions are made possible through generous loans from David Hockney, Inc., David Hockney Foundation, and a private collector. Financial support has been provided by Arlene Schnitzer and Jordan Schnitzer, Directors of The Harold and Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation.
“David Hockney is one of the most prolific and beloved artists of our time,” says Timothy Potts, Director. “His light-filled images of Los Angeles, where he has spent much of the past fifty years, have become icons of the city’s creative lifestyle and colourful personalities. Most remarkable of all has been David’s relentless curiosity and inventiveness, exploring new techniques, technologies, and ways of constructing images up to the cusp of his ninth decade. His work remains as fresh and young today as it has ever been.” Potts said.
Happy Birthday Mr Hockney has been curated by Julian Brooks, senior curator of drawings, and Virginia Heckert, head of the photographs department. Made over six decades “…they have only rarely been seen”. Brooks commented, “…they were never intended for commercial sale, and have instead remained with the artist. Hockney’s self-portraits…reflect his career, exploring interests ranging from his own flamboyant fashion sense, to his own changing features and the consequences of ageing, but always laced with wit and deep sensitivity,” he said.
Related events for the duo of shows include gallery talks, a panel discussion and a drop-in family workshop. A highlight of the Photographs exhibition will be showcasing Pearblossom Highway 1986, a work acquired from the artist by the Getty Museum in 1997, one of his best-known. The piece depicts a desert road in California’s Antelope Valley, and overlays the mundane observations of a road trip with his witty and perceptive commentary on how to depict the third dimension.
At the beginning of his journey towards his more sophisticated works of recent times, produced via technology, Mr Hockney embraced the iPhone and then the iPad in 2012 achieving wonderful results, as he mastered the features that distinguish it from media used in the past. Much like a little boy with a new toy as he came to terms with this whole new way of producing art, he reputedly also enjoyed the fact there was no mess to clean up.
Art is a language in images, a method by which we communicate ideas, express conceptions about self, our society, culture and community. David Hockney seems to more than most, have found his own way to inject meaning, spirit and purpose into everything around him with a riveting, powerful and very human reality.
Mr Hockney’s 80th Birthday Year certainly started well with works on display in an exhibition at NGV International, Melbourne, Australia held over the Summer Xmas period ending in March 2017, when another began at the British Museum in London, exploring LGBTQ Histories. It will end with a major retrospective of his works at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York opening November 27, organised collaboratively by Tate Britain, London and the Centre Pompidou at Paris.
A very Happy 80th Birthday Mr Hockney indeed!
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2017
J.Paul Getty Museum
Getty Center, Los Angeles
Self-Portraits: June 27 – November 26, 2017
Photographs: July 18 – November 26, 2017