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David Hockney, ‘Remember that you cannot look at the sun or death for very long’, 2021

David Hockney became known as a central figure of British Pop Art in the 1960’s and continues to be widely celebrated as one of the most influential living artists of our time. 

Hockney was born in Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England. He was educated at Wellington Primary School, Bradford Grammar School, Bradford College of Art and the Royal College of Art in London, where he met R. B. Kitaj. While there, Hockney said he felt at home and took pride in his work.

At the Royal College of Art, Hockney featured in the exhibition Young Contemporaries – alongside Peter Blake – that announced the arrival of British Pop art. He was associated with the movement, but his early works display expressionist elements, similar to some works by Francis Bacon. When the RCA said it would not let him graduate if he did not complete an assignment of a life drawing of a female model in 1962, Hockney painted Life Painting for a Diploma in protest. He had refused to write an essay required for the final examination, saying he should be assessed solely on his artworks. Recognising his talent and growing reputation, the RCA changed its regulations and awarded the diploma. After leaving the RCA, he taught at Maidstone College of Art for a short time.

Hockney moved to Los Angeles in 1964, where he was inspired to make a series of paintings of swimming pools in the comparatively new acrylic medium using vibrant colours. The artist lived back and forth among Los Angeles, London, and Paris in the late 1960s to 1970s.