The California Comeback of David Hockney
New works dominate a brand new exhibit at LACMA this spring.
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The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) will present the U.S. premiere of David Hockney: 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life. On view April 15–July 29, 2018, the exhibition features recent portraits that revisit a genre that has been a major part of the artist’s long career. Vibrant and full of life, these paintings, which Hockney considers a single body of work, were executed between 2013 and 2016 in the artist’s Hollywood Hills studio. The exhibition provides insight into the artist’s life, his connections to the art world and the people who have crossed his path recently.
For each portrait Hockney asked the sitter for a commitment of three days, which the artist has described as “a 20-hour exposure.” The portraits are painted on canvases of the same size (48 × 36 inches), with each subject seated in the same chair against a similar backdrop. Among the portraits are those of John Baldessari, Stephanie Barron, Douglas Baxter, Celia Birtwell, Dagny Corcoran, Edith Devaney, Larry Gagosian, Frank Gehry, Peter Goulds, Ayn Grinstein, Barry Humphries, Rita Pynoos, Joan Agajanian Quinn, Sir Norman Rosenthal, Jacob Rothschild, and Benedikt Taschen, which are joined by portraits of Hockney’s studio and home staff, children of friends, and Hockney’s siblings John and Margaret.
David Hockney: 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life is organized by the Royal Academy of Arts in London in collaboration with LACMA. The exhibition opened in London at the Royal Academy in 2017, and traveled to Venice and Bilbao. The LACMA presentation, the only U.S. showing of the work, is organized by Stephanie Barron, the museum’s senior curator of modern art. “This exhibition marks the return of David’s work with painting on canvas and portraiture—long an important facet of his celebrated career,” said Michael Govan, LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director. “In 1988 LACMA initiated Hockney’s first large retrospective and now thirty years later it is so meaningful to present a new body of work featuring David’s personal circle.”
Stephanie Barron, senior curator of modern art, shares, “As one of the sitters whose portrait is included in the exhibition, I had the chance to witness Hockney’s painting process very closely over the course of three days. He observed me closely, worked confidently, quickly, and silently, and managed within the first two hours to capture my pose, clothing, and spirit. Hockney’s mastery of portraiture comes through in this remarkably intimate series in which each subject sat in the same chair, in front of the same curtain. Looking at them together we see how marvelously Hockney has captured the individual personalities of his varied subjects.”
Born in Bradford, England, in 1937, David Hockney began his career in the 1960s in London, as part of the emerging British Pop art scene. In 1964 he visited Los Angeles for the first time, and in 1979 he moved to L.A., where he established a studio practice. David Hockney’s work has been the focus of numerous LACMA exhibitions, including David Hockney: A Retrospective (1988); David Hockney: A Drawing Retrospective (1996); David Hockney Portraits (2006); and an installation of a multi-screen film, David Hockney: Seven Yorkshire Landscape Videos, 2011 (2011). His iconic painting Mulholland Drive: The Road to the Studio (1980) has long been a hallmark of LACMA’s collection, and more than 200 of Hockney’s paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, and films are in the museum’s permanent collection.
For more information on the exhibit, click here.
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