Getty cel­e­brates Hock­ney’s 80th

The artist’s self-por­traits cap­ture pas­sage of time

Metro Canada (Ottawa) - - Front Page -

The as­pir­ing artist was 17 when he took pencil to pa­per in 1954 and sketched a mir­ror-like im­age of him­self as a stu­dent at Eng­land’s Brad­ford School of Art.

In the 63 years since, David Hock­ney has be­come world fa­mous for painted land­scapes, por­traits of others and bril­liant photo col­lages of ev­ery­thing from back­yard swim­ming pools to scenic desert vis­tas.

Lesser known are the hun­dreds of self-por­traits he made over the years, seem­ingly to sim­ply re­mind him of the changes time has wrought upon his ap­pear­ance. Those changes are doc­u­mented colour­fully, and of­ten­times hu­mor­ously, in the ex­hi­bi­tion Happy Birth­day, Mr. Hock­ney, which opened at Los An­ge­les’ J. Paul Getty Mu­seum ear­lier this sum­mer in hon­our of Hock­ney’s 80th birth­day. It runs un­til Nov. 26.

Vis­i­tors will also see one of Hock­ney’s most bril­liant pho­to­graphic works, 1986’s Pear­blos­som High­way. The rarely dis­played col­lage of 700 pho­tos of Cal­i­for­nia’s high desert is one of more than a dozen Hock­ney col­lages on dis­play.

When the mu­seum de­cided it wanted to do some­thing to mark Hock­ney’s birth­day last month, tak­ing Pear­blos­som out of stor­age was a no-brainer.

But of­fi­cials wanted a lit­tle some­thing more for Hock­ney, who Julian Brooks, the mu­seum’s se­nior cu­ra­tor of draw­ings, notes has all but been a neigh­bour of the mu­seum since mov­ing to L.A. in the 1960s.

Lon­don’s Tate Bri­tain mu­seum had mounted a trav­el­ling Hock­ney ret­ro­spec­tive ear­lier this year. It’s cur­rently at Paris’ Pom­pi­dou Cen­tre and will move to New York’s Met­ro­pol­i­tan Mu­seum of Art in Novem­ber.

“So we thought is there any­thing else we could do to show the pas­sage of time that would be fun and in­ter­est­ing, and the self-por­traits seemed like a nat­u­ral idea,” Brooks said.

To mu­seum of­fi­cials’ de­light, the artist thought it was a great idea too and opened up his per­sonal archives and those of his foun­da­tion, let­ting Getty cu­ra­tor of pho­to­graphs, Vir­ginia Heck­ert, pick and choose.

The most re­cent of the self­por­traits on dis­play is a se­ries cre­ated on his ipad in 2012 in which Brooks notes the artist seems in­tent on show­ing his grumpy-old-man side. In one im­age, he strikes a snarling, ‘get off my lawn’ pose.

In a wa­ter­colour from 2003, he’s dressed in a black shirt, tan pants and bright red sus­penders and ap­pears lost in con­cen­tra­tion as he paints him­self.

Taken to­gether, the works show Hock­ney ag­ing from dark­haired teenager in 1954 to man about town with dyed-blond locks and snappy clothes to greyand-white-haired older gen­tle­man. He holds a hand cupped to an ear in one, re­flect­ing the hear­ing loss he’s suf­fered as he’s aged.

THE as­so­ci­ated press

Famed for his paint­ings of land­scapes and in­te­ri­ors, The Getty is stag­ing a show that looks at one of Hock­ney’s lesser-known sub­ject: him­self.

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