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David Hockney back in L.A. -- for a bit

December 5, 2009 | 10:00 am


Painter David Hockney likes to call himself “an English Los Angeleno,”  but the renowned chronicler of Los Angeles’ sun-drenched life and landscapes hasn’t been around much lately. He’s much more likely to be painting these days in his native Yorkshire than in his adopted Southern California.  “As we say in Hollywood, I’m on location,” he said, laughing. 

Hockney gallery He’s gone back and forth between his two countries for years, but his recent passion to paint Yorkshire in all seasons has kept his trips here both shorter and less frequent. Yet stop by his Hollywood Hills home, and it’s like he never left. The sun pours into the living room, the garden is in bloom, and he’s busy reading the morning newspaper at the dining room table.

I stopped by to see what and how he was doing. Always intrigued by technology, he demonstrated how he made thumb paintings on his iPhone. And when I asked him to show me what was going on in his studio, he graciously opened the door and invited me in. Within 10 minutes, he had a brush in his hand and was painting the Grand Canyon, which he had just visited, from memory. Says Hockney: “I’m very attracted to the great open spaces of the West.”

To read my story in Sunday's Arts & Books section, click here.

-- Barbara Isenberg

Photo: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (2)


My uncle (art maven that he is) pointed out that your informative and interesting article managed to completely ignore Hockney's long-time continuing relationship with his LOCAL gallery: Louver. Many of these recent paintings were on view here and some still are. Why the focus on NEW YORK, when Hockney has the least connection with that city??

Mark Evans
Los Angeles

David Hockney was always a puzzle to me. As a child/ teen my mother would take me to modern art museums to expose me to culture. I got giggle from artist like Ed Ruscha and Klaus Oldenburg, but Hockney I couldn’t figure out. I was attracted to the fact he was doing something I visually could see with figures and backgrounds, but always was left with a feeling his wasn’t finished developing as an artist.
The drawing was representational in the most primitive way and the painting was crude in form and technique. The colors were occasionally appealing from 40 feet, but that feeling was wrenched away as you got close to the painting. Everything in his work felt separate from background to foreground, no sense of a unified picture, just separate elements painted side by side.
I like when I see representational elements mixed with abstraction in Diebenkorn, but there was something about Hockney staying to close to the representational (without any foundation) for it to coalesce for me. Seeing his new landscapes codified it for me. Every part of the painting is still crude and awkwardly unharmonious, he was never classified as a folk artist, but I think in the end that’s what he is: a modern folk artist. His work begs for it to be judged with the traditional, but is to crude to stand up to the great history of painting he claims to so deeply understand. Perhaps he feels the beauty in his patternmaking, but never captures it for the viewer it’s always away in the distance. Perhaps that gives him drive? The sad think is a good art teacher could make him great in very short time, but never will.


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