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Like other pop art artists, Hockney relaunched figurative painting in a style that referred to the visual language of advertising. What separates him from others in the Pop movement is his obsession with Cubism.
Along the same lines as the Cubists, Hockney combines multiple scenes to create a composite view, choosing delicate spaces, like split-level houses in California and the Grand Canyon, where depth perception is already a challenge.
Hockney emphasizes personal matters - another thing that separates him from most other pop artists. He depicts the domestic sphere - scenes from his own life and that of his friends. As does Alice neel, Alex Katz, and others that describe their immediate surroundings in a way that transcends a particular category or movement.
Hockney is openly gay and has remained a strong advocate for gay rights. Against the backdrop of a macho art scene that has dismissed "pretty color" as effeminate, Hockney's vivid greens, purples, pinks and yellows are statements in favor of sexual freedom.
By actively seeking to imitate photographic effects in his work, Hockney is a forerunner of photorealists. He is also a heretic among the purists who believe that painting should only rely on the artist's direct observations from nature. While not universally accepted, Hockney's research into art history has shown that the Old Masters, from Vermeer to Canaletto, used frequently the camera obscura (one of the first forms of camera) to improve their optical effects. If the old revered masters could use cameras, he implied, why not us?
David Hockney's bright pools, split-level homes, and suburban California scenery are an eerie mix of calm and hyperactivity.
Shadows seem to have been banished from his 1960s acrylic canvases, as smooth as magazine pages.
The flat shots come together in a patchwork, blurring our sense of distance.
Hockney's unique style incorporates a wide range of sources ranging from Baroque to Cubism and, more recently, computer graphics. An iconoclast obsessed with the Old Masters, this British pop artist deliberately breaks all the rules, reveling in the deconstruction of proportions, linear perspective and color theory. It shows that orthodoxies are made to be shattered and that opposites can coexist, a message of tolerance that transcends art and has profound political and social implications.
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