David Hockney: 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life

at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Through July 29, 2018)
Reviewed by Emily Nimptsch

What is the value of community? For David Hockney, one of Britain’s most prominent living painters, the circle of friends, fellow artists, and employees joyfully and intimately rendered in his current Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) exhibition, 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life reveal the invigorating and inspirational power of camaraderie. While portraiture has historically been a tool for the elite to showcase their wealth and status, this egalitarian collection portrays individuals from all walks of life, including the artist’s dentist and housekeeper. Also, as none of these portraits are commissions, Hockney here is instead driven by the desire to honor and celebrate the people in his life. Much like a mosaic or network of unique yet interconnected cells, these exuberant, vibrantly-hued acrylic paintings all combine to form a harmonious and cohesive body of work.

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Installation view, David Hockney: 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life, 2018. Photograph: LACMA.

Moving to Los Angeles in the 1960s, Hockney soon developed his signature brand of Pop art, painting the sun-drenched city as a cotton-candy colored dreamland complete with glamorous mid-century modern homes, shimmering swimming pools, and slender, swaying palm trees. Two decades later, Hockney completely reinvented himself with a series of fragmented photo-collages he dubbed “joiners.” Perhaps best exemplified by the iconic deserted highway image, Pearblossom Hwy., 11–18th April 1986, #2, these grid-like photo medleys rely on Polaroid and 35mm snapshots featuring a variety of perspectives and light conditions. Inspired by the mechanics of perception and Cubism, Hockey engaged the eye with his disruption of the viewer’s smooth, unified field of vision. More recently, the artist has begun blending the beauty of nature and technology with his vivid and impressionistic iPad paintings…

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RIOT MATERIAL is LA’s premier literary-cultural magazine with an eye on art, word, and forward-aiming thought. Check out our gallery on IG: @ riotmaterial.

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