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More than 70 Large-format Paintings by David Hockney on View at Kunsthalle Würth
David Hockney, Three trees in the proximity to Thixendale winters 2007, Oil on five canvases, ever 91.5 x 122 cm, 183 x 487.5 cm, © David Hockney Photo: Richard Schmidt.

KUNZELSAU.- British artist David Hockney (b. 1937), celebrated for decades as the “painter laureate of Southern California,” is doubtless one of the most interesting and important painters in contemporary art. Yet anyone who believes they are entirely familiar with Hockney’s art will be forced to reconsider in light of his recent work. Contrary to his earlier assertions, he has returned to his native Yorkshire and rediscovered the beauty of his home county’s landscapes, which held little inspiration for him as a young artist. Since then, he has been creating precisely observed, magically glowing natural scenes in which his new enthusiasm combines with his many experiences gained over a lifetime of experimental painting. Hockney’s broad interests and his knowledge of artistic techniques lend these works a special character – seemingly naturalistic, they nonetheless continually question the potential of painting. It is perhaps this masterful mixture of apparent simplicity and great conceptuality that makes Hockney’s art so popular, and at the same time manifests the aesthetic demands he places upon himself.

Hockney’s somewhat unreal-looking version of “realism” arises from the combination of emotion and perspective in his painting. In order to capture a motif as a whole, he not only relies on continual shifts from close-up to distant viewpoints but on a gradual development of the picture, which often consists of several equal-sized canvases. In this way, he creates extended formats that enable the viewer to virtually roam through the picture. The eye is drawn so close to the visual scenes that we have the feeling of actually standing inside the unframed views. In addition, there are entire series of works in which the artist observes selected landscape motifs at different times of day or different seasons and depicts his impressions with great precision. The colours, that change with the intensity of the sunlight, are translated into colourful, energetic images that reflect the immediacy of natural light. Yet here, too, it is not a faithful recording of actual appearances that is foremost but the subjectivity of human vision, an artistic transformation that always contains something unspoken and wonderful.

Over 70 large-format paintings, drawings and inkjet printed computer drawings of landscapes, selected by David Hockney especially for the Kunsthalle Würth, are on view here for the first time in such a comprehensive exhibition.

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April 27, 2009

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