David Hockney refused Buckingham Palace’s request to paint a portrait of the Queen, insisting that he was too busy painting landscapes. He also rejected a knighthood saying, “Prizes of any sort are suspect.” In 2012, the Queen appointed him to the Order of Merit, a small group of dignitaries, who are invited to the palace every now and then. Hockney’s response to the honor was, “No comment, other than it’s nice to know they are not prejudiced against the older smoker.”
Hockney was born in Bradford, Yorkshire in 1937. He studied at Bradford School of Art and then went to London to study at the Royal College of Art. Throughout his life, Hockney has traveled across and between continents, moving to Los Angeles in 1964, where he began his first swimming pool paintings.
During this period, Hockney taught at the University of California in Los Angeles and then at Berkeley. Besides the swimming pool paintings, Hockney began to paint large, double portraits.
He traveled back to London, then went to live in Paris, where he did some lithographs, explored the use of photographs for his work, then moved to Paris, where he had a solo exhibition at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs and designed sets for the Paris ballet. That’s sort of how Hockney’s life continued to unfold – painting, exploring various media, designing sets for theater and ballet and traveling.
In the early 1980s, Hockney took a break from painting and concentrated on experimenting with his photographs. In 1984, he began doing lithographs, creating the Moving Focus Series based on photos that he had taken during his travels.
Many of the paintings in that series were devoid of figures and concentrated, instead, on perspective.
Always interested in new technology, Hockney is now painting with his iPad, creating extraordinary works of art. Hockney, at age 77, spends much of his time now at his home in the Hollywood Hills, and works every day. In April of this year, he was asked to attend a luncheon for the Order of Merit at Buckingham Palace, but he had to pass… he was traveling in China.
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