Sunday, February 25, 2018

David Hockney at The Met

I can feel a clear and strong direction in David Hockney’s retrospective at The Met. In his early works, he focused more on abstraction but his later works are more representational, he has a strong interest in how to use color, form and figuration to express everyday experience. Even though some of his paintings do not include human figures, such as his still lives, paintings of buildings and swimming pools, all of these reflect aspects of contemporary life.

One of the many reasons that his work is successful is its connection between his painting and modern design — the paintings’ vibrant, pure color and graphic shapes, the contrast between textures. All these elements are carefully composed and manipulated by Hockney. Because his work resonates in the context of consumer society, even a person who does not know much about art could likely be attracted to it. 

As a photographer, I appreciate the way his work explored perspective. His photo works provide multiple ways to view the world simultaneously. The juxtaposition of many photos amplifies the differences between the camera and the human's eye, thus showing that technology cannot fully represent space.


  1. I've been familiar with Hockney's work for a long while but seeing so much in person made his awareness of fashionable design very apparent. Like you mentioned, it makes some of the work very accessible. We can appreciate an interior that's put together well. The way his work weaves through prominent art historical movements - and not always in the right order - is testament to how gifted an observer he is. I kept trying to visualize some sort of map or diagram that must exist for him while going through the show. That if you take one moment in art history with this color and this color, with this sofa, with this interior, with this figure sitting this way, in this light will result in an image that is so easily swallowed. I'm wondering if there's one painting in particular that does this especially well, where the pieces are very easily pulled apart.

  2. Walking through this exhibition is indeed like walking through art history in Hockney's own timeline. Reading the anecdotal descriptions beside many of the paintings gives the show a sheer personality to it. The personal and political dark humor dawdling in works prior to his famous Splash painting lent so much dimension and depth to his later works. I was deeply amused by Hockney's latest works with the Ipad and VR-like 360 degree paintings. Colors and perspectives are bolder than ever. Just like decades ago with the photo copier and fax machines, Hockney is never afraid to change. New trick, same cool dog.