David Hockney: beautiful new things
David Hockney’s paintings became immensely popular after they replaced abstractionism that was rather popular in America at the time with its puzzles wrapped around enigmas wrapped in existential dilemmas. This new kind of art was shining bright, seemingly simple, and staggeringly gay (in the best sense of the word). Definitely an improvement!
What’s the secret?
If you ever wondered what made Hockney’s work sell at $80,000,000, anyone else you turn to may have a variety of answers. There are as many opinions as there are connaisseurs. But we’ll put it to you that it was Hockney’s uncompromising optimism that instinctively appealed to his audiences. And the fact that he went to one of the best colleges in the UK, namely Bradford School of Art as well as The Royal College of Art, spending 12 hours a day studying ("I was there from nine in the morning till nine at night.") and later 18 hours a day working.
There are a few interesting facts about Hockney's life, such as his explicit sexuality, rebellion against the system, and mastery of the craft, which enabled him not only to achieve undeniable success and become the highest paid artist in the history of mankind, but also to teach at Berkeley and UCLA and spend a considerable part of his life in Los Angeles, which must have been interesting for an Englishman to say the least.
If you look closely, you'll probably find a reflection of all these milestones in his work, but there's a larger question we end up asking ourselves when we're irresistibly drawn to stop and stare at Hockney's paintings, which more often than not feature a swimming pool (or at least a hint that you only have to turn a corner to encounter one), bright, cheerful colors, and lines that we'd be tempted to call simple if it weren’t for the Herculean amount of work Hockney put into his art.
This question is: what is so enchanting about these paintings that there’s no avoiding going to “David Hockney’s Moving Focus” at KunstMuseum in Lucerne?
We have a few theories. One has to do with Los Angeles, a place where incredible vitality and buoyancy constitute 99% of the nature of all processes. This city’s unrivaled passion for life and never-ending hunger for love and adventure make it one of the cities we unreservedly admire (despite obviously tough competition from Berlin, Paris, and Ibiza). Was it the spirit of Los Angeles that made Hockney’s paintings burst into the audience’s world like a fountain exploding with outrageously primal colors?
Our other version is focused around swimming poolsI. In our experience, swimming always has the effect of making colors brighter, the future more excitable, and our hunger for life much stronger. Was it the swimming that made Hockney’s work so radiantly splendiferous?
The next version is based on Hockney’s unyielding optimism. That may very well be the product of living in LA and frequenting swimming pools, but Hockney was known for believing there aren’t bad days (but that there are unhappy people).
Could it be his relentless optimism that attracted his ecstatic audiences? Or maybe a combination of that staggering education and one of more of these factors? What do you think?
At Artessere, we’re immensely excited about the brightness of David Hockney’s colors and the inevitable optimism they bring to the room. We’re delighted to be able to point you to another one of his exhibitions (here).