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After the 1960s, art seems to have been engaged in an importantly optimistic project inclined towards progress. Transformed as it was through urbanization and industrialization, Western culture since the mid-1800s has been marked by self-consciousness and a restlessness that singles it out from the less changeable pre-industrial world. Change, therefore, a dynamic constant in the modern era, was embraced by those who would be modern as a marker of progress. This changing set of social, economic, as well as political circumstances is referred to as modernism; that is a movement or a set of ideas and beliefs based on the modern period. The works of David Hockney are considered a seminal example in the movement.
David Hockney is a British painter, printmaker, draughtsman, photographer, and designer mostly active in the USA. After a wonderful occupation as a student, Hockney gained international achievement when he turned in his mid-20s and has thereafter consolidated his position as the best-known British artists of his era. His phenomenal success has been based not simply on the flair and versatility of his works, but also on his interesting personality, which has helped him to become a well-known figure even to those not particularly interested in art.
Born in Bradford into a family of working-class, Hockney studied at Bradford School of art. His early works included views of the surroundings and portraits. In 1963, he presented his first solo show at a gallery in London and the first retrospective he had come as early as 1970. During this period, he was painting in a heavier and even in a more conventionally figurative way, in which he did various complex large double-portraits of friends such as the well-known Mr. and Mrs. Clark and Percy (1970-71).
Hockney's interest and the deep interest he has in people and their relationship is evident in the portraits. He seems to take into deep consideration how to manipulate the picture plane and in order with intentions of telling the dual story of his viewers and the paintings deliver his genuine excitement in portraying these visual communications. The colors, the compositions, and also the pattering with the paintings work as visual parallels to the emotional communication of the viewer -in other words, their relationship is illustrated by the way they appear in the picture.
Fig1: Mr. and Mrs. Clark and Percy (1970-71, tate.org) by David Hockney
Mr. and Mrs. Clark and Percy is a dual portrait that incorporates a modernist design icon. Celia stands with lilies to her right, a symbol of annunciation. Ossie, on the other hand, sits disheveled and barefoot on a Breuer's Cesca cantilever chair. The flowing lines of the chair in black and chromes are echoed by the languid limbs of Ossie, who holds a cigarette in one hand a cat on one thigh.
The couple appears glum and reversed, perhaps foreshadowing the breakdown of their relationship (Hockney, et al. 178). In this painting, Hockney portrayed the contemporary lifestyle of members of the meritocracy whose interest in interior design and fashion was always displayed as visual imagery in the new color supplements and glossy magazines. In addition, the flower, lamp, cat and the book appear as phenomenological things, which are also used to communicate something about the people portrayed, instead of the clues to be interpreted. Even though there seems to be no implied relationship between these couples; they seem isolated, alone, uncommunicative. Nevertheless, the painting gave the work a modern, graphic feel, entirely fitting for the fashionable lifestyle the couple had.
Such painting is notable for its airly feeling of light and space and the subtle flattening as well as simplification of the forms, and for its sense of stylish living captured. Hockney painted the places and people he knows best, most often the art he makes is autobiographical, and he additionally has memorably celebrated his romance with Los Angeles, especially in the paintings that feature swimming pools like (A Bigger Splash, 1967, tate.org)
Fig 2: A Bigger Splash, 1967, tate.org by David Hockney
R.B. Kitaj commented on these works: "it is a rare event in the modern art when a sense of place is attained at the level of very fine painting. Hockney's California is among the only recent exemplars (Bovey 375)." Hockney has additionally been exceptional in graphic art as much as he is in painting. His works in the field include the etched images to Cavafy's Poems (1967), and also various personal turn outs, usually on themes that are considered homoerotic. The illustrations in Cavafy were banned by an exhibition office in Mexico due to what they called an over-explicit treatment of such themes. Their fear was that they would attract a crow of 'young queens and beatniks.'
In the 1970s, Hockney also introduced himself to the fore as a theater designer for Mozart's The Magic Flute and The Rake's Progress, produced in 1975 and 1978. In the 1980s he managed to work good deals with photography making photographic collages where various tiny images constructed a scene in a way he associates with Cubism. The painting was continuously his central activity, however. The works he presented in the 1990s included various series entitled Very New Paintings, which he depicted Californian scenery in almost abstract terms. The loose handling of such works has had some critics disappointed, particularly those who had great admiration for his earlier paintings.
One of the picture in David Hockney's exhibition at the Emmerich Gallery -his large double portrait of Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott (1969), was painted at the height of a naturalistic phase in this artist's richly varied career (Weschler, and Hockney 101). The painting has been linked to modern-day Annunciation scene, the curator takes center stage while his raincoat-clad lover Christopher Scott stands in profile. In the middle of the canvas, a huge pink sofa, sits Henry, jacketless, his formal waistcoat and tie suggesting that he has just returned from the office. Gazing straight ahead at the spectator, he seems relaxed, and brimming with confidence, the very image of the important museum curator.
Fig: Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott (1969) by David Hockney
To the left stands the slim figure of Christopher Scott, dressed in a raincoat and standing stock-still, gazing into the distance in a rather vacant fashion. Christopher looks as if he is about to leave. Hockney involves the viewer in this painting in a real fashion by the sense that one is seated in a chair behind glass table in the forefront. Indeed this painting offers pictorial sociability of a high order, at once amused and disabused, very much a part of the environment they portray to be precise, and witty.
Arguably, the most serious criticism of Hockney as an artist is that he made superficial gestures onto Modernism as an illustrator would, rather than committing himself entirely to Modernist approach. Hockney is aware of the degree that his own work has been stipulated by Modernism, which he considered as 'one of the golden ages of art, but takes concern with what he considers as the academicism of what is referred to as Later Modernist art.
It might be that Hockney made attempts to reconcile two things that in the current modern world would seem to be irreconcilable: significant aesthetic intentions as well as easy communication with people beyond the art world. It is a risky job, but on which can be considered worth pursuing in case the artists is to revert to his position as a working society member at a period when the isolation has reached an intolerable level.
Nevertheless, Hockney's work appeals to several people who may, otherwise show little interest in art. It can be that they are interested in the work due to its figurative, and as a result easily accessible on a single level, or due to the subject matter of leisure and exoticism offers an escape from the mundanities of everyday life. Maybe it is not even the art that people are interested, but Hockney having the ability to engage personality and verbal wit that makes his art interesting to some.
While the question of 'truth' in the practice of art is a challenging one, the authenticity of lived experiences, on the other hand, is very important in validating modern art. The pseudo-confessional art of Hockney in the 1960s to the politics of the 1980s and 1990s, the significance of openly acknowledging one's sexuality, is an example of the way in which authenticity is a hallmark of 'truth' in the modern art. Having said so, it is not often possible to be truthful through art.
Hockney's Third Love Painting (1960), combines text, poetry, and grafting in a self-referential and semi-autobiographical work of art, but since the painting was made at a time when homosexuality was illegal in Britain it could not be central in its themes. Hockney speculated that the painting was an act of propaganda for homosexuality that he felt 'should be done' because it was 'part of me.' However much Hockney felt that Third Love Painting was necessary, the painting is of necessity highly coded and not immediately accessible to those culturally deprived of gay makers and references.
The oblique works of Hockney in early 1960s contrast markedly with the works of artists who work in much more uncompromising terms in tandem with the lifting of restrictions on homosexuality in the late 1960s.
Hockney employs solid color fields often associated with modernist abstraction but does so in the service of his composition. He thus creates images that are striking in their palette and distinguished by the juxtaposition of solidly rendered figures and objects against flag, abstracted field of color. His etchings and paintings are normally homoerotic, particularly those known as the "Love Paintings." He began using photography to help his painting and to photograph his young male friends and models.
As he continued experimenting with Polaroid cameras, he began combining individual Polaroid images for purposes of creating large composite images. These popular Polaroid and snapshot assemblage pieces indicate the same playfulness found in his other artistic works. Even though not entirely a photographer, Hockney made an important contribution to gay male photography. His photographic works have as many fans now as his paintings, drawings, and set designs.
Until the early 1980s, the writings about Hockney's paintings generally avoided analyzing their homoerotics: few even acknowledged the nude men floating conspicuously in the painted swimming pools. The one or two remarks ventured on Hockney's nude were openly hostile. The overwhelming majority of critical reviews concurred with Hockney's paintings highlighted the superficiality of the city's architecture and an empty life of its residents.
From enfant terrible to golden boy of the color supplements and now one of England's most established artists, the career of Hockney has been a brilliant success story. Like many of his generation, he reacted against the dominance of abstraction; critics were misled, however, in taking the inclusion of certain motifs, like tea-packets in his work as justification for labeling him a Pop Artist. His concerns, however, have rather been personal and autobiographical in a sense, very traditional. Initially, he felt very strongly the need to reconcile this with the main tents of modernist painting, especially flatness.
Much of his work focused with great wit, the contradictions between the two-dimensional surface and three-dimensional illusion: this underlays his playing with various styles. Such exploitations assisted him in developing, with remarkable consistency, onto a type of realism with which he felt instinctively in tune -the smooth, som...
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