LOS ANGELES, CA.-
David Hockney (British, born 1937) is celebrated as one of the most important artists of the past fifty years. His work in many mediafrom painting and drawing to printmaking and photographydemonstrates a distinctive, playful style and an enduring curiosity about technique. In celebration of the artists 80th birthday on July 9, the J. Paul Getty Museum
presents Happy Birthday, Mr. Hockney , a two-part exhibition featuring Hockneys rarely seen self-portraits, Polaroid composites and photo collages, including the Getty Museums masterpiece Pearblossom Hwy., 1118th April 1986, #2, which was last shown in 2008.
David Hockney is one of the most prolific and beloved artists of our time, says Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. His light-filled images of Los Angeles, where he has spent much of the past fifty years, have become icons of the citys creative lifestyle and colorful personalities. Most remarkable of all has been Davids relentless curiosity and inventiveness, exploring new techniques, technologies, and ways of constructing images up to the cusp of his ninth decade. His work remains as fresh and young today as it has ever been.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Hockney: Self - portraits presents a selection of drawn and photographic self-portraits made over the past six decades. At the beginning of his career, Hockney was reluctant to study himself, but as time progressed he made several series of self-portraits at different moments in his life. On view are self-portraits from each decade of his career, from the 1950s when he was a seventeen-year-old art student up to iPad studies made in 2012.
Hockneys self-portraits in many ways reflect his career, exploring interests ranging from his flamboyant fashion sense to his own changing features and the consequences of ageing, but always laced with wit and deep sensitivity, says Julian Brooks, senior curator of drawings at the J. Paul Getty Museum. They were never intended for commercial sale, and have instead remained with the artist. We are privileged to be exhibiting these rarely seen, intimate works.
The self-portraits also underscore Hockneys interest in different media, including lithography, photography, and watercolor, and new technologies such as the Xerox copier. In 2012, Hockney enthusiastically adopted the iPad as a drawing tool, and soon mastered the features that distinguished it from media he had employed in the past.
A second gallery, Happy Birthday, Mr. Hockney: Photographs, features a selection of Hockneys photographs from the 1980s, when he investigated photographys ability to capture a sense of time and his own presence.
Photography has played an integral role in Hockneys practice since the 1960s, when he first used a 35mm camera to document family, friends, holidays, and travel, and then to create studies for paintings. Realizing that the decisive moment captured in most photographs presents a static view that is contrary to how we actually see the world, he began using a Polaroid SX-70 camera to create multiple views of subjects in instantaneous prints that he then assembled into grids. Both these Polaroid composites and the photo collages that followed anticipated the digital layering and compositing of images with computer software.
The exhibition includes Pearblossom Hwy., 1118th April 1986, #2, acquired by the Getty Museum in 1997, and one of the artists best-known works. The piece depicts a desert road in Californias Antelope Valley, and overlays the mundane observations of a road trip with a witty and perceptive commentary on how to picture the third dimension. It is the first time in nearly ten years and only the third time since it was acquired that this iconic work is on view.
With their fragmentation of form and abandonment of a single viewpoint, Hockneys Polaroid composites and photo collages show the influence of Cubism, says Virginia Heckert, department head of the Getty Museums Department of Photographs, and a co-curator of the exhibition. By depicting multiple aspects of the same object, they encourage viewers to imagine moving through space to experience that object over a more extended period of time.