DAVID HOCKNEY by Christopher Simon Sykes


The Biography
Email this review


First volume of an intimate, vivid biography of the ever-evolving English artist.

Now in his mid-70s, Hockney is still reinventing himself, most recently with his use of the iPhone. A friend of the artist, photographer Sykes (The Big House, 2004, etc.) provides an excellent sense of what has fed the artist’s fertile, restless imagination. Born in 1937 to an antiwar couple in the Yorkshire industrial city of Bradford, Hockney became a scholarship boy who excelled at art but little else. His attendance at the Royal College of Art in London in 1959 drew out the tremendous talents of this awkward provincial kid, exposing him to modern art for the first time, especially currents from America (e.g., Jackson Pollock), and shaping his sense as a gay artist. Pop art exploded, depicting the everyday objects of modern life, and Hockney dallied briefly, such as in the use of graffiti (Doll Boy). Before even graduating, several events proved decisive to the shaping of his career. His work attracted the attention of hot young London dealer John Kasmin, and he visited New York City and resolved to go blonde after watching a TV commercial. He also won the RCA’s gold medal, started selling paintings, thanks to Kasmin’s relentless promotion, and moved into a large flat in the then-slummy Notting Hill, which would be his base for the next fruitful decade. Considered bright, witty and inventive, Hockney spent the transformative years of 1963-5 in Los Angeles, creating his early iconic work. Teaching at UCLA in 1966, Hockney met Peter Schlesinger, who became an important lover and muse. Experimenting with photography, etching, portraiture and theater and working between London, Paris and L.A., Hockney has never ceased questing.

A personal, lively look at this extraordinary artist’s career. Readers will eagerly await the second volume.


Pub Date: April 3rd, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-385-53144-3
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Talese/Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2012


NonfictionBREAKFAST WITH LUCIAN by Geordie Greig
by Geordie Greig
NonfictionREBELS IN PARADISE by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp
by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp
ChildrenWHAAM! by Susan Goldman Rubin
by Susan Goldman Rubin