David Hockney’s Very Big Show At The de Young Museum in San Francisco

David Hockney, 'Woldgate Woods' 6 feet by 12 feet, oil on six canvases

David Hockney, ‘Woldgate Woods’ 6 feet by 12 feet, oil on six canvases

ABOUT THE EXHIBITION: SAN FRANCISCO — The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco present David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition, on view at the de Young Museum from October 26, 2013 through January 20, 2014. Assembled by Hockney exclusively for the de Young, this exhibition marks the return to California of the most influential and best-known British artist of his generation.

Nearly 400 works are shown in 18,000 square feet of gallery space, making this the largest exhibition in the history of the museum.

David Hockney, Secret Knowledge, Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters

David Hockney, Secret Knowledge, Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters

This first comprehensive survey of Hockney’s work since 2002 covers one of the most prolific periods of the artist’s career. Hockney’s book, Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters was published in 2001, revealing his discovery that artists had used optical devices in their working processes centuries earlier than had been previously thought.

The next decade saw an explosion of activity for Hockney, including a period of two years when he worked intensively and exclusively in watercolor for the first time.

This was followed by painting en plein air, experimentation with the iPhone, iPad drawings, oil paintings on a grand scale, and digital movies.

'David Hockney, A Bigger Exhibition'. at San Francisco's de Young Museum

‘David Hockney, A Bigger Exhibition’. at San Francisco’s de Young Museum


Hockney's work 'Under the Trees' 2010

Hockney’s work ‘Under the Trees’ 2010

David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition builds on the success of a recent exhibition organized by the Royal Academy of Arts in London, but encompasses a much larger scope, and includes many portraits, still lifes, and landscapes. In addition to watercolors, charcoals, oil paintings, and works in other media.

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco will also be the first to exhibit and publish The Arrival of Spring in 2013 (twenty thirteen).

This work consists of 25 charcoal drawings, finished in May of this year, and has been described by Hockney as capturing “the bleakness of the winter and its exciting transformation to the summer.”

David Hockney, Woldgate with Red Trees, 2004 watercolor & gouache on paper, 29 x 41 in

David Hockney, Woldgate with Red Trees, 2004 watercolor & gouache on paper, 29 x 41 in

David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition includes some of Hockney’s grandest works both in terms of size and concept, such as The Bigger Message, his 30-canvas re-working of Claude Lorrain’s The Sermon on the Mount.

Also included are more intimate works, like the artist’s portraits depicting friends, colleagues, and family members. These reveal the artist’s personal and intimate relationships, and illustrate a particularly tender understanding of his sitters.

Hockney’s most recent portraits—done in charcoal—will be exhibited and published for the first time by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

David Hockney, Four Views of Montcalm Terrace, 2003. Watercolor on four sheets of paper 34 x 48 in. overall. 2013

David Hockney, Four Views of Montcalm Terrace, 2003. Watercolor on four sheets of paper 34 x 48 in. overall. 2013


David Hockney, Self Portrait With Red Braces, 2003, watercolor

David Hockney, Self Portrait With Red Braces, 2003, watercolor

More About David Hockney: Biography

English painter, printmaker, photographer and stage designer. Perhaps the most popular and versatile British artist of the 20th century, Hockney made apparent his facility as a draughtsman while studying at Bradford School of Art between 1953 and 1957.

Hockney soon sought ways of reintegrating a personal subject-matter into his art. He began tentatively by copying fragments of poems on to his paintings, encouraging a close scrutiny of the surface and creating a specific identity for the painted marks through the alliance of word and image. These cryptic messages soon gave way to open declarations in a series of paintings produced in 1960–61 on the theme of homosexual love.

Hockney’s subsequent development was a continuation of his student work, although a significant change in his approach occurred after his move to California at the end of 1963. It is clear that when he moved to that city it was, at least in part, in search of the fantasy that he had formed of a sensual and uninhibited life of athletic young men, swimming pools, palm trees and perpetual sunshine.

On his arrival in California, Hockney changed from oil to acrylic paints, applying them as a smooth surface of flat and brilliant colour that helped to emphasise the pre-eminence of the image. By the end of the decade Hockney’s anxieties about appearing modern had abated to the extent that he was able to pare away the devices and to allow his naturalistic rendering of the world to speak for itself.


Hockney’s Selected Chronology: 2002-2009

David Hockney, George and Mary Christie, 2002, watercolor

David Hockney, George and Mary Christie, 2002, watercolor

2002: In New York Hockney works on the revival of Parade: A Triple Bill at the Metropolitan Opera. Sees an exhibition of Chinese painting at the Metropolitan Museum, New York. While staying at the Mayflower Hotel in the city, he begins using watercolour and continues working in this medium when he travels to London. He spends almost one year in Britain. For the first time he sits for the painter Lucian Freud. He sees Thomas Girtin and the Art of Watercolour at Tate Britain.

In search of northern light he travels to the Norwegian fjords and Iceland, creating watercolours and sketchbooks of his journeys.

Hockney’s second portrait commission, to paint the Glyndebourne chairman Sir George Christie and his wife Mary for the National Portrait Gallery in London, is the catalyst for a series of large single and double portraits in watercolour of friends painted from life.

Also produces many pen-and-ink portrait drawings and fills numerous sketchbooks with quickly observed drawings of his life in England and his travels.


David Hockney, The Maelstrom Bodo

David Hockney, The Maelstrom Bodo, 2002, watercolor on 6 sheets, 36 x 72 in.

David Hockney, Marco Livingstone and Stephen Stuart-Smith 2002, watercolor

David Hockney, Marco Livingstone and Stephen Stuart-Smith 2002, watercolor


2003: In January a small exhibition entitled Five Double Portraits: New Work by David Hockney opens at the National Portrait Gallery in London, with the portrait of Sir George and Lady Christie as the centrepiece. An exhibition of double portraits and Norwegian landscapes opens simultaneously at Annely Juda Fine Art in London. Hockney returns to Los Angeles where he continues working in watercolour.

Attends the ‘Optics, Optical Instruments and Painting: the Hockney-Falco Thesis Revisited’ conference in Ghent, Belgium, in November. Receives an honorary degree from the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence and the Lorenzo de Medici Lifetime Career Award at the Florence Biennale.

2004: His travels in Spain and France in the early part of the year result in a series of watercolour landscapes. Spends time in Bridlington with his sister Margaret where he records the East Yorkshire landscape through the seasons, including a series of thirty-six watercolour studies.

David Hockney, Antony Peattie and Howard Hodgkin, watercolor, 2002.

David Hockney, Antony Peattie and Howard Hodgkin, watercolor, 2002.

In March, the Whitney Biennial in New York, a survey of contemporary American art, opens and includes Hockney’s recent watercolour works – portraits juxtaposed with still lifes of his Los Angeles garden. Travels to Palermo, Sicily, in May to receive the Rosa d’Oro Award.

Curates the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition with Allen Jones, showing a selection of his Spanish watercolours. Returns to Los Angeles at the end of the year. Hockney’s Pictures is published, an image-based retrospective book selected and organized by Hockney.

2005: Hockney works on a new series of almost life-size single and double oil portraits painted directly onto canvas with no pre-drawing. In February Hand, Eye, Heart, an exhibition of his Yorkshire landscapes, opens at LA Louver gallery.

The thirty-six watercolour studies are exhibited as one work. Hockney returns to England and spends the summer in Bridlington where he paints the East Yorkshire landscape in oil en plein air. Exhibits the single standing figures in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.

In preparation for David Hockney Portraits, he continues painting portraits including a series of paintings of Celia Birtwell’s granddaughter, Isabella. In September he visits Leipzig, Dresden and Berlin. Returns to Bridlington to paint the Yorkshire landscape in the autumn. Midsummer: East Yorkshire is exhibited in the Gilbert Collection at Somerset House, London.

David Hockney, Painting 'en plein air' in the Woldgate Woods, 2006

David Hockney, Painting ‘en plein air’ in the Woldgate Woods, 2006

2006: Attends the openings of the traveling David Hockney Portraits’ exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in February; at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in June; and at the National Portrait Gallery, London, in October. Hockney continues to paint the spatial experience of the East Yorkshire landscape.

He develops a method where he is able to work on a large scale outdoors by using multi-canvas paintings that join to form one large picture. The first exhibition of these paintings together with their earlier single and double canvas counterparts is at Annely Juda Fine Art, London in September 2006.


2007: Travels to Los Angeles at the end of January to open an exhibition of his 2006 East Yorkshire Landscape paintings at L.A. Louver.

With the aid of digital photography his multi-canvas compositions culminate in the largest painting Hockney has ever made, comprising some 50 separate canvases that were painted outdoors and formed one giant painting measuring 15 x 40 feet titled Bigger Trees Near Warter that occupies a whole wall at the 2007 Royal Academy Summer exhibition where it was first shown in 2007.

David Hockney, Bigger Trees Near Warter, 2007

David Hockney, Bigger Trees Near Warter, 2007

Following his strong interest in watercolour, Tate Britain invites the artist to curate the largest exhibition of Turner watercolours ‘Hockney on Turner Watercolours’ that is shown from June 2007 to February 2008. To coincide with the exhibition Tate Britain also exhibits a selection of five of Hockney’s latest six-part Yorkshire Landscape paintings marking his 70th birthday.

Returns to Los Angeles at the end of December to begin stageing rehearsals for the twenty year revival of his opera production “Tristan und Isolde” at the Los Angeles Opera.

2008: Opens “Tristan und Isolde” at the Los Angeles Opera on January 19.
The subject matter of the East Yorkshire landscape in all its various seasons continues to stimulate Hockney. It is a landscape he has known since he was a boy when he used to work on a farm in the area during the school holidays. Gives his 50 canvas painting, “Bigger Trees Near Warter”, to Tate Britain at a Press Conference in April.

David Hockney, Felled Trees on Woldgate, 2008

David Hockney, Felled Trees on Woldgate, 2008

Exhibits ten of the Woldgate Woods paintings,”Looking at Woldgate Woods” at The Arts Club of Chicago in which all the works shown were devoted to just one of the Yorkshire landscape motifs that inspired him. Hockney begins to use the camera and large format prints as a means of production of the multi-canvas paintings to assist in the assembly of these massive works.

His assistant photographs stages of the paintings on location and later makes prints in the studio of the individual panels in order to view them together at a smaller size to track the development of the painting. This method allows him to work on location yet in context of the work as a whole.

David Hockney, Felled Totem II , 2009

David Hockney, Felled Totem II , 2009

2009: Exhibits at L.A. Louver in February and at Annely Juda Fine Art, London, in May, his inkjet printed computer drawings. Travels to Germany for the opening April 26th of “David Hockney: Nur Natur/Just Nature,” an exhibition of over 70 large format paintings, drawings, sketchbooks, and inkjet printed computer drawings at the Kunsthalle Würth in Schwabisch Hall. Returns to England to paint. Begins editioning ‘portraits’ from his inkjet printed computer drawing series.

Exhibits new paintings in a double venue show “David Hockney:Recent Paintings” at the PaceWildenstein galleries in New York, in October, his first major show in New York in over twelve years.

Nottingham Contemporary opens with “David Hockney 1960 – 1968: A Marriage of Styles” on November 14th through January 24th, 2010.

The above chronology is presented from: hockneypictures.com

Nearby, a grid of watercolors from the series “Midsummer: East Yorkshire” looks so fresh with its fields, harvests and puffy clouds that it seems Hockney has reinvented himself as a young artist of maybe 50 years ago.


 David Hockney, Midsummer Midsummer,

Midsummer, East Yorkshire, 2004, watercolors


David Hockney slideshow of Midsummer: East Yorkshire


david-hockney self-portrait- with-charlieDavid Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition (catalog)

Accompanying one of the most anticipated exhibitions of the past few years, this catalogue captures the grand scale and vibrant color of Hockney’s work of the twenty-first century. In the past decade, having returned to England after years on the California coast, David Hockney has focused his attention on both landscapes and portraits, all the while maintaining his fascination with digital technology.

The resulting work is a fanfare of color and light, ranging in dimension from billboard- to letter-size, and is the basis for a thrilling new exhibition that promises to become one of the most popular in recent memory.

This lush and impeccably produced catalogue features over 100 full-color works of art from museum collections and Hockney’s private studio, including such major new works as The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate Wood, The Bigger Message, and Bigger Yosemite.

It also includes multiple-image galleries (spread over gatefolds) of some of his iPad drawings and self-portraits, plus film stills from the artist’s “Cubist” movies. Hockney’s own insight into this latest chapter of his career is found across the book’s pages and is accompanied by thoughtful commentary by renowned critic Lawrence Weschler and art historian Sarah Howgate.

David Hockney, Woldgate Woods, 2006 David Hockney. six oil-painted canvases, 72 X 144 inches overall

David Hockney, Woldgate Woods, 2006 David Hockney. six oil-painted canvases, 72 X 144 inches overall

Since 2005 David Hockney has worked en plein air (outdoors) to depict landscapes using watercolor, oils, the iPhone and iPad, video cameras, and, most recently, charcoal. In his art, he has become increasingly interested in chronicling the passage of time. Back in his native England after living in southern California for 25 years, Hockney rediscovered the changing of the seasons, and worked on site in East Yorkshire to paint particular views at different times of the year.

In 2010 and 2011 he made digital videos of landscapes in Woldgate Woods, in East Yorkshire, depicting the same forest scene in winter, spring, summer, and fall. Using nine cameras simultaneously to create what he calls a “Cubist movie,” Hockney displayed the resulting videos on nine flat-screen monitors, allowing viewers to watch multiple changing perspectives in one work.

The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven), Version 3 is an installation of twelve printed iPad drawings made en plein air and a monumental thirty-two-canvas oil painting executed in the studio. Hockney visited and drew the same locations repeatedly, documenting the transformation from winter to summer on his iPad. In the painting, he conjures a dazzlingly colorful spring that has just arrived.

David Hockney, ‘The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011

David Hockney, ‘The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011


VIDEO: Love Life: David Hockney’s Timescapes presented by Lawrence Weschler at the de Young Museum, October 26, 2013



David Hockney: Paintings, Prints and Drawings, 1960–70 (exh. cat., ed. M. Glazebrook; London, Whitechapel A.G., 1970)
Travels with Pen, Pencil and Ink (exh. cat., intro. E. Pillsbury; London, 1978) [excellent standard of repr.]
David Hockney Prints, 1954–77 (exh. cat., intro. A. Brighton; ACGB, 1979) [fully illus. cat. rais.]
M. Livingstone: David Hockney (London, 1981, rev. 2/1987) [survey of Hockney’s work in all media]
M. Friedman, ed.: Hockney Paints the Stage (New York, 1983; add. insert pubd 1985) [substantial survey of Hockney’s work for the theatre]
L. Weschler: David Hockney Cameraworks (New York, 1983) [thorough account and excellent illus. of composite photos of 1982–3]
David Hockney: A Retrospective (exh. cat., ed. M. Tuchman and S. Barron; Los Angeles, CA, Co. Mus. A., 1988)
Hockney in California (exh. cat., ed. M. Livingstone; Tokyo, Takashimaya Gal., 1994)
David Hockney: A Drawing Retrospective (exh. cat. by U. Luckhard and P. Melia, London, RA, 1995–6)


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