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David Hockney

Yesterday to some confusion we studied in our course on British Twentieth Century Art, pop art in Britain. I say confusion as our teacher had clearly scheduled Bacon, Freud and the Colony Club and I brought along my copy of Martin Gayford’s Mavericks and Modernists which I displayed conspicuously. Our teacher is so irrepressible that once she is up and running no one wants to interrupt her flow.

My introduction to art was pop art which was certainly not admired universally at the time. Yet it forced us never to view a soup can the same.

Richard Hamilton was its founder though art critic Lawrence Alloway gave it its name.

Hamilton’s screen printing technique and use of public images in the fifties predated Andy Warhol.

David Hockney is seen as part of that movement yet ironically he was a great student of Medieval and Renaissance art, even using the triptych which had passed out of fashion by the sixteenth century. He was both a colourist and linearist a fusion of creativity that not many artists achieved.

I must have seen his famous portrait of Ossie Clark and Celia Birtwell hundreds of times yet for the first time appreciated the grouping.

Celia Birtwell is distant from her husband, their marriage was in difficulties, and staring ahead but Ossie Clark is sideways his groin covered by Percy the cat on his thigh.

The table is diagonal. The view outside is redolent of the interior/exteriors that Bonnard and Matisse did so well. There is also that distinctive feeling of space that Hockney achieved so well in A Bigger Splash.

Hockney went to life classes at Bradford School of Art when it was not compulsory and so his draughtmanship is excellent. Like with many a British artist his popularity and financial success has come but not always critical acclaim with it.



About Alice Mansfield

A graduate of the Slade, Alice has painted and written about art all her life. With her children now having now grown up and departed the nest, she recently took up sculpture. More Posts