Hockney's Portraits and People
Marco Livingstone and Kay Heymer
David Hockney’s continuing belief in the importance of the portrait and his virtuoso skill in creating a sense of close communication between artist, sitter and viewer has resulted in some of the best-loved works of the postwar era. From the 1950s on, Hockney’s most persistent subject matter, in paintings, drawings, collages and photoworks, has been of people usually very close to him, as well as of himself. These works are narratives of autobiographical relationships: they reflect the intimate and often intense stories of this artist’s life. They also explore different formal ways of representing the passage of time and at the same time the unavoidable but marvellous stillness of portraits. The works include fascinating sequences as he paints his mother or Henry Geldzahler or Celia Birtwell on and off for decades; the special qualities attached to depictions of lovers; and the range of celebrities, writers and artists – Billy Wilder, Armistead Maupin, W.H. Auden, Henry Moore, Christopher Isherwood – who have been part of a very full life. The text by a distinguished European critic and curator reinforces the point that this hugely popular English-born artist, who made America his second home, has become a figure of worldwide appeal.
Marco Livingstone is an art historian and independent curator. His many publications on David Hockney include the first monograph and the catalogues of a number of museum exhibitions for which he was also curator. Kay Heymer, a curator and art historian, is the head of Modern Art at the Museum Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf. He organized the exhibition David Hockney: Exciting Times Are Ahead at the Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn, in 2001.