Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.
Sunday, 9 May 2010
David Hockney - then and now
Wonderful to see the 'David Hockney Revisited' programme last Sunday, this latest offering in the "South Bank Show" series saw David interviewed now by Melvyn Bragg, intercut with previous interviews they did over the years, showing Hockney's progress from that blonde with the round glasses of the 60s and 70s to his current status as the grand old man of British art - fascinating too to see him still at work, still wanting to do more and go in new directions as his work over the years moved from oils to watercolours to sketches to opera design and photo montages and then electronics. He is now producing those huge canvases for the Royal Academy next year showing his current fascination with trees and the rural countryside of the North of England, from his current base at Bridlington (to where his mother had retired). It suits him perfectly - David is rather deaf now but still smokes as much as ever at 72.
He was the golden boy of the '60s art scene, with the growing development of the colour supplements. I actually saw him in a pub in 1965 - my first visit to a gay bar in Notting Hill in London - as one knew him by his distinctive look. I was 19 and rather nervous so had one drink and fled - if I had stayed maybe I could have been the boy in the pool !
The California and pool pictures are still iconic as ever - I also particularly like the French ones of the early '70s - I must include my poster of his 1973 Paris exhibition; the one showing those windows in the Lourve with the blinds drawn is one of my timeless images. That fascinating 1975 film A BIGGER SPLASH (a time capsule now) by Jack Hazan shows his life at this time, with friends like Celia Birtwell and Peter Schlesinger. The drawings on his travels are also timeless now and those sketches of various friends (including Isherwood, Auden, Gielgud), and of course those paper pools. The pictures of his parents as they aged are affecting, and the ones of his dogs are delightful. All those various books on David and his prodigious output are also essential - the problem with all the posters is that there is not enough wall to hang them on!
That Hockney image was important back then too - the unapologetic gay painter from Bradford who dyed his hair blonde and wore that gold lame jacket and went off to paint boys in pools and became the painter of California in the 60s, and that well-documented lifestyle in London and Paris in the '70s - a public figure as recognisable a gay icon as Alan Bennett or Elton John - with that distinctive fashion look: bright striped rugby shirts, work pants, candy coloured shirts and ties etc. David always gives good interview - good to see him still railing against the puritans and killjoys which made him leave England in the first place.
The Magic Flute was even better with his wonderful sets. The big exhibition a few years ago in London was good - wonderful to see all those iconic images in one place, so here's to the next one at the Royal Academy. Great to see an artist still working and being inspired as they get older.
David's latest - done on his iPad 24th May 2010.