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Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Painting of the Month (27): David Hockney

The Road Across the Wolds by David Hockney, 1997
David Hockney was born in Yorkshire, England in 1937. He lived for many years in Los Angeles but now has returned to his native country and county.
There is a major Hockney retrospective in London at the moment and now is a good time to re-evaluate his work.
Finding fame in the 1960's he did not follow the path of the then avant-garde artists such as Mark Rothko (colour-field painting) or any kind of abstract art. He has always painted what is described as 'representative' art. That means he paints a picture of something and one can tell what it is meant to be!
His most famous picture is probably 'A Bigger Splash', 1966.
His style is still recognisable today but the subject matter has changed; now he concentrates on landscapes. I like this picture because of the intensity of colour. This means it is not realistic because the light in Yorkshire is not generally like that of the south of France and lacks the intensity implied in this picture. If you find this painting a little simplistic, or even childlike, remember that Pablo Picasso once said that it took him a lifetime to learn to paint like a child!
What gives away the sophistication on show here is the clever way that the design of the picture leads the viewer's eye from the foreground though various zig-zags deep into the far distance.
I really enjoy the variety of greens on show and the way he has used green's 'complementaries' of red and orange. This has the effect of rendering the colours utilised seem even more intense.
If you like this painting you can see more of his work here.
PS: At first you only notice the large house in the foreground, but if you linger longer you will see about eight different groups of buildings!
Coming soon: a tirade against Thomas Kinkade. 
Check him out and be warned!


Anonymous said...

The rather lovely Sir Tom Eagerly says:
Well Bazza. I had a look at that Rothko so-called painting. Is he kidding or what? Rolf Harris would beat him in a straight paint-ball fight any time.
Ah, Bazza, Bazza, Bazza. I had such high hopes for you and now you are mis-spending your youth.
Still, one has to laugh, what?
Oh, by the way, I like this picture. Do you think £50 would get it for me?
Bottoms up old boy!

John said...

Hi Bazza,
David Hockney is not only a great artist, but a great man (in my opinion). I saw a piece on him on Countryfile a few weeks ago, prior to this new exhibition and he says what he feels, which is a rare attribute these days! The colours he uses are amazing, but he can paint the same subject in a variety of colours, using what he sees that day,brilliant!

bazza said...

Sir Tom: Thank you Sir Tom, King of the Philistines!
This picture is probably worth £5 million! When I say 'worth' of course what I mean is that it would cost that much to buy it. It can't truly be worth that much.
You never know, one day Rolf Harris might be featured in Painting of the Month. Check this blog in January 2062!

bazza said...

Hello John. Well. Now I've learned something new and interesting from you.
I'll be teaching you twitching next! (Sorry, you probably hate that word).

John said...

I have only one thing to say to that; AAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH! ;)

bazza said...

John: Yes, I thought that might be your reaction. I promise not to say it again.
It's bit like when people tell Patrick Moore that they too are interested in astrology!

joanne fox said...

I saw a big David Hockney exhibition about 20 years ago, and the things I remember best are some lovely pencil sketches of his dogs - daschunds, I think. Sometimes when you see these big splashy kind of paintings, you don't always appreciate that the artist also has such good skills of draughtsmanship. Nice pic, thanks.

bazza said...

Hi Joanne: Hockney is an excellent draughtsman which is not always the case with great painters. I don't think anybody would accuse Lucian Freud of having been a great draughtsman!
The current exhibition is all landscapes which is his main interest now.

joanne said...

what i love about art is how inclusive it is... there is a place in it for all different styles and subjects...

I like this painting a lot... I like the colors, the depth of field, and the simple joy in it.

A big switch from the browsing around I've been doing today of the art of Artemesia Gentileschi, artwork that opens my eyes in a totally different way.

Seeing the deeper value in various artistic styles opens my mind and heart, and broadens my eyesight... in so doing i am better able to recognize the value of differing perspectives in life as well.

Thank you for sharing this piece. When do we get to see more of your art? ;)

joanne said...

spelling correction...


not Artemesia


bazza said...

joanne: That's an amazing coincidence because I too was looking at 'Judith Slaying Holofernes' today and thinking about using it as a future Painting of the Month! I realise my series is a bit male-centric and have also short-listed Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt.
I'm glad you like the Hockney - I'm a bit ashamed to post Bazza-art near that kind of thing!
Thanks for dropping by it was lovely to hear from you again (and thanks for the email).

joanne said...


what a wonderful coincidence yesterday, and I'm thrilled that you are considering her painting for a showing on your blog. I can't imagine the kind of courage it must have taken for women artists to pursue art in times such as they were, and reading some about the events in Artemisia's life yesterday brought me even more perspective when browsing through her artwork.

and I happen to think bazza artwork fits in perfectly here with the others ... why wouldn't it?

Kelly said...

I love the picture. It does take your gaze into the artwork in different directions than you'd expect. the color in this particular painting are vibrant and makes an even bigger impact on the viewer. Good choice, Bazza.

Meg Rosoff said...

Ah, Bazza. It's an amazing show in real life. Can you beg borrow or steal a ticket? I think you'd love it.

bazza said...

joanne: There's a very interesting history around the exclusion of female painters, writers etc from history.
It's time to redress the balance!

bazza said...

kezza: Thanks pal. I'd like to own a picture like this about the size of a lounge room wall! Original of course.

bazza said...

Meg: I do intend to. I hope I haven't left it too late!

rob said...

I can't warm to his paintings particularly. However I'm pleased that you have introduced this and other paintings to me. It appears to be more abstract than realistic....which is okay with me.

I watched a documentary about him recently....a pleasant enough person.

bazza said...

Hi Rob: "Damned with faint praise" I think!
This painting, although obviously not especially realistic, cannot be said to be abstract. What the artist has shown is definitely meant to represent the actual scene before his eyes. It is, however, highly stylised and that's what appeals to me.
It's what John Berger called a 'way of seeing'.
It's always stimulating to hear your considered and honest views Rob. Thanks for looking in!

David said...

Dear bazza,
I'm a big admirer of Hockney, and coincidentally, we have recently been producing some "joiner" pictures at the Media Action Group for Mental Health for our "Local People, Local Lives" camapign, which are based on Hockney's photographic "joiner" technique.
He has produced some great stuff, and I like the picture you have included here.
Very Best Wishes to you, bazza,

bazza said...

Hi David: That's great to hear. I think the importance of artists and artistic icons is under-valued in our society. I'm against elitism in art (or anything else) and using artistic ideas in everyday life is terrific.

THE SNEE said...

This painting is lovely to stare at. I would like to take a walk in the brightly colored landscape. Thanks for highlighting Hockney this month.

bazza said...

Hi Snee: That's a great compliment to the artist I suppose. But if you do see colours like that you've probably been at the wacky baccy!

THE SNEE said...

Yes, this is probably true, but as I's sepia tone season here, and I wouldn't mind being blinded by a bit of color!

bazza said...

Ms Snee: To quote the Old English song (from c.1260)
"Sumer is icumen in" (Summer is coming in)
Spring and summer will shortly be returning colour to your life!

klahanie said...

Hey bazza,
I rather like Hockney's work and he's definitely up there with the legend that is, Rolf Harris!
There you go, an exclamation mark.
Have a good weekend dude! Doh!

bazza said...

Gary: Hockney and Harris - what a partnership!!!!!
Have a great weekend sir.

dcrelief said...

Bazza, you're so right: an original wall-sized painting...break out the settee and I'd be there for hours.

This is all together lovely. A larger painting would afford the chance to name the vegetation of most plots.

Red rooftops and the red patch with evergreens, bring my eye into the painting. Such depth, and at the middle a bright light at the water returns me to the foreground.

The colour blue usually repels the eye, so it's the red and orange tones that keep me returning.

Wonderful choice! And~ yes I like your own art too. Take care.

bazza said...

DC: Hi, I hope you are continuing to get well after your fall.
Hockney is certainly a great colourist, in my view, but I would never be able to identify what is being grown in most of the fields.
I didn't mention the huge scale of some of his work and it's a very important factor. I would be happy to have a wall-sized Hockney at chez Bazza!