David Hockney

David Hockney Photo

Born in 1937 in Bradford, England David Hockney is an English photographer, printmaker, painter, stage designer and draughtsman. He was the son of Kenneth Hockney and Laura Beth. He went to Wellington Primary School, then to Bradford Grammar School. He completed his secondary education from Bradford College of Art and he finally attended the Royal College of Art, London. There, he was included in Young Contemporaries, an exhibition that marked the arrival of Pop art in Britain. A trip to California inspired Hockney to paint a series of swimming pools in acrylic, using vivid colors. Hockney made trips to Paris, Los Angeles and London.

Apart from painting, David Hockney was famous for his unique style of photography. In the 1980s, he began making photograph collages and he use to call them, joiners. He used Polaroid photos and soon 35mm prints in color. Hockney cleverly composed a patchwork of images. The first subject  of such work was his mother and since the photos were taken overtime – when joined together they gave a cubist feel. With this technique, he has made landscapes and portraits, such as Pearl Blossom Highway and Kasmin, respectively. These photomontages were done using a grid and even without it, to give a imprecise look. While photographing, the subjects could move obviously if they were living things, otherwise Hockney moved the camera to photograph the scene or subject from various perspectives, parts and/or angles.

The idea of joiners came to Hockney accidentally. Once he was to paint a terrace and living room in Los Angeles, so he happened to make Polaroid images of the living area and later glued the photos together. It was not in his mind to give this activity a planned composition, it just happened to be that everything harmonized in an unusual way, suggesting a sense of movement in the subject and the outcome narrated that the spectator moved around in the room. This was a discovery on his part, and he began experimenting. He became so engrossed that for a while he kept his talent of painting aside.

Some examples of amalgamated Polaroids from 1982 are Don & Christopher; Nicholas Wilder Studying Picasso; Still Life Blue Guitar; Sun On The Pool; and Patrick Procktor, London. The idea was to give a feeling of cubism in his work through photography. Examples of photo collages made by Hockney are:  Merced River from Yosemite; Telephone Pole; Robert Littman Floating in My Pool; and Walking in The Zen Garden, Kyoto, 1983. There are many more works under these two categories by Hockney.

However, when he made a number of such compositions, he realized that photography cannot beat painting and that painting has no limitations but photography does unless it is digitally edited in some way. So, he returned to painting.

David Hockney is highly judgmental about photography, making comments that label photography as being mechanical, unequal to painting and etc. Perhaps a single photo by Hockney wouldn’t have famed as much as his collages. His technique has given a new dimension to photography. In the method of joiners, Hockney is not restricted and he can play around with his subjects in the final composition. In one piece, there are a number of perspectives that make the work of Hockney alive. According to Hockney, painting can offer deep insights about the subject matter in comparison with photography. Despite all these views that Hockney has for photography, many of his works are made with it.

David Hockney crossed the boundaries of photography and painted his own world with his own techniques.


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