David Hockney / Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) 1971
David Hockney – Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) 1971, Private Collection
© David Hockney
When I was in my early teens I came across David Hockneys’ interpretations of Cubism through what he called ‘joiners’; composite images composed of clusters of Polaroid photographs. The effect is similar to early Cubist portraits, where the figure has been fragmented and reassembled. At the same time Hockney was painting tightly composed portraits à la Picasso of the 1940s. With a distinctively sun drenched take on Picassos’ signature motifs, Hockney took quantum leaps across a substantial Cubist lexicon. Not only did he dip in and out of Cubism at random, but Hockney seemed to play around with it without the slightest hint of reverence. And why shouldn’t he? Picasso too, by his own admission, was an expert thief. As a consequence of the lessons I learned from Hockney’s fresh take on Cubism, I went back to my textbooks to see how badly I’d misread Picasso the first time around.
Hockney was the perfect art history teacher, and for the period that followed I rarely thought about his work without it leading to the discovery of someone else’s. I have learned to look far more carefully since then, and discovered so much more in Hockney that is original and timeless.
David Hockney opens on 9 February 2017 until Monday 29 May 2017 at Tate Britain.