Image banner: Detail of The Queen’s Window, 2018 by David Hockney at Westminster Abbey © Dean and Chapter of Westminster

David Hockney is probably the best-known living British artist both in the UK and worldwide.  He is arguably one of the most, if not the most, important artists of his time. The high regard for his prolific output rests in part on his expertise in developing and mastering a wide range of techniques to produce works that are thought-provoking, engaging and memorable. If any present-day artist can be dubbed an ‘artistic polymath’ it is certainly David Hockney.

Born in Bradford in 1937, Hockney attended local primary and secondary schools before going on to the Bradford College of Art then the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London.  By the time he graduated from the RCA in 1962 he had already established a reputation for his individuality in the use of painting styles.

David Hockney, 'Winter Road Near Kilham' (detail) 2008, Computer Drawing © David Hockney

Even before going to London, he had experimented with several printmaking approaches, a practice he continued for many years. Among the techniques he used over the years were faxed sketches, layered copy machine coloured prints and iPad drawings.

For some years, in the 1980s, he used Polaroids and 35mm film prints to make photo-collaged portraits and landscapes. Dissatisfied with the results of photographic representation he turned to using computer programmes, a technique he continued to develop over a couple of decades.

In more recent years, Hockney has relentlessly pursued the use of the tablet drawing. Landscapes, still life and portraits flowed effortlessly from his iPad in their hundreds. The Queen’s Window in Westminster Abbey was designed on his iPad and many of his well-known Yorkshire landscapes were conceived in the same way.

Queen’s Window, Westminster Abbey, 2018

A master in printmaking, collages, and the use of photographic representation, computer painting and digital painting, Hockney has also made a significant contribution to stage design. He has worked with theatres around the world including in England, Mexico City, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The different techniques used and developed by Hockney in his artistic practice are well illustrated in the David Hockney: Ways of Working exhibition which runs until 19 April 2020.

The exhibition explores the influences of Hockney's life in Los Angeles, where he lived for much of his life. The Californian light is reflected in his use of colours which are both vibrant and light at the same time. They are forever eye-catching and we are drawn back to them and the subjects they depict, time and time again.

David Hockney, "Double Study for 'A Closer Grand Canyon'" 1998, Oil on 2 canvases, 71 1/2 x 47 3/4" overall © David Hockney.
Photo Credit: Prudence Cuming Associates. Collection Royal Academy of Arts, London

Get an introduction into David Hockney's prodigious printmaking with Murray Macaulay, Head of the Prints & Multiples Department at Christie’s London, on Thurs 16 April 2020, 1.00pm. The talk will explore Hockney's artistic influences and technique, as well as innovative collaborations with legendary printers such as Piero & Aldo Crommelynck and Ken Tyler.