arts

An intimate look at David Hockney's star-studded circle of friends

Published 29th June 2016
David Hockney
"Barry Humphries, 26-28 March" 2015
Acrylic on canvas
48 x 36"
Credit: © David Hockney/ Photo: Richard Schmidt
An intimate look at David Hockney's star-studded circle of friends
Written by Allyssia Alleyne, CNN
This summer, seminal British pop artist David Hockney is offering the public an intimate look into his star-studded personal circle. David "Hockney RA: 82 Portraits and 1 Still Life," opening July 2 at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, brings together portraits painted in the 78-year-old's LA studio over the last two and a half years.
A mix of friends, family, acquaintances and staff, his sitters include creative luminaries like architect Frank Gehry, artist John Baldessari, and gallerist Larry Gagosian, as well as his own siblings.
While the 82 sitters differ greatly (especially the titular "Fruit on a Bench" still life), there are several recurring elements within the portraits.
Each canvas is the same size, depicting models sat on the same yellow chair against a plain, colored background; and each portrait was painted over three days in what Hockney calls "a 20 hour exposure." The fruit bowl acts as a stand-in for one friend who couldn't make their sitting.

A living icon

Hockney -- who has also worked in photography, draftsmanship and printmaking -- first made a name for himself in the 1960s with his vibrant countryside landscapes and portraits. Today, he's considered one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.
Next year, Hockney will be the subject of a major retrospective at London's Tate Modern.
David Hockney RA: 82 Portraits and 1 Still Life is on at the Royal Academy of Arts in London from July 2 to Oct. 2, 2016.