3 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HOCKNEY
1. Hockney’s paintings helped normalise gay relationships in the 1960s Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy 1968
Homosexuality was illegal in the UK until 1967. Created two years after he officially moved to LA, this painting shows the beginnings of Hockney’s desire for more naturalism in his work. ‘Many of the Double Portraits present a normalised picture of gay relationships in the period,’ says Wilson. In the chairs are British novelist Christopher Isherwood and his partner, the American artist Don Bachardy. From 1968, Hockney produced more and more portraits of friends, lovers and relatives, almost life size on the canvas. Gone are the oils in favour of acrylics – it’s as if Hockney is seeing the world in a very different light compared to England.
2. One of Hockney’s art students became his muse Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) 1972
‘This painting is one of the masterpieces of Hockney’s naturalism,’ says Wilson of the famous artwork, which shows Hockney’s then-lover, the artist Peter Schlesinger. Hockney met Schlesinger in 1966 while
teaching at UCLA and the art student quickly became his lover and muse, and the person many regarded as Hockney’s first true love. ‘This picture is suffused with an intensity and sense of longing set within an almost limitless landscape. Although the painting suggests a relationship between the two figures, it is most especially reflective about the relationship between Hockney and Schlesinger,’ explains Wilson. In 1968, the pair moved to London, where Hockney enjoyed his first retrospective, at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1970, but the following year Schlesinger left him. Schlesinger went on to become a successful photographer in his own right – snapping many models, Cecil Beaton and, of course, Hockney.
3. Hockney has lived in Los Angeles for more than 30 years Outpost Drive, Hollywood 1980
At the end of the 1970s, Hockney decided to experiment with different ways of seeing. ‘Having moved to a house in the Hollywood Hills, Hockney drove daily to and from his studio in LA and experienced the landscape in a new way,’ explains Wilson. ‘The painting shows the beginnings of a use of multiple points of perspective and reverse perspective – the viewer is pulled into the space of the picture rather than left outside its frame.’ Inspired by a Picasso exhibition, he also produced multiple canvases with music and dance themes. The same year, he also began working with the Metropolitan Opera in New York on set designs for productions, which opened in 1981 to rave reviews. David Hockney. From 9 Feb. Tate Britain, Millbank, SW1P 4RG. T: 020-7887 8888. www.tate.org.uk
HOCKNEY’S IMPACT ON ART AND CULTURE IS INESTIMABLE” – TATE BRITAIN’S DIRECTOR ALEX FARQUHARSON
2. PortraitofanArtist (PoolwithTwoFigures) 1972
3. OutpostDrive,Hollywood 1980