Photography by M. Sharkey
Few British artists have been as influential in the 20th century as David Hockney. At 75, the artist is not only as relevant as ever, he’s as busy as ever. And just as audacious. Where in the 1980s he experimented with the Quantel Paintbox, a computer program that enabled artists to sketch onscreen, in recent years he has been using the Brushes app for iPhone and iPad. And earlier this year, Hockney pulled off a massive exhibition of often-massive landscapes, “A Bigger Picture,” at the Royal Academy in London, attracting more than 650,000 visitors -- an extraordinary feat that reflects his ongoing popularity and relevance. Spanish art lovers proved no less enthusiastic when the show moved on to the Guggenheim Bilbao, where July attendance at the museum broke all previous records. (It is now at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne until February 3, 2013.)
Hockney first came to attention in the 1960s with his series of Los Angeles swimming pools that managed to capture the West Coast, and the era, in a way that felt bold, fresh, and radical. From the very start of his career, when homosexuality was still illegal in England, he was unerring in his refusal to airbrush his sexuality from his work. Case in point: “Peter Getting Out of Nick’s Pool,” his evocative painting of his then-lover, 19-year-old Peter Schlesinger, naked as he lifts himself out of a shimmering pool.
These days, Hockney spends more time in his native Yorkshire, where he has reconnected with the landscape of his youth, but for a long time his spiritual home -- the place that spoke to him -- was Los Angeles. “I lived in L.A. so long that I’ll always be an English Angeleno,” he said earlier this year. “But to me now the big cities are less interesting and sophisticated than they were. To get something fresh you have to go back to nature.”
Photographed at his home and studio in London on September 26, 2012