Hockney sees the charismatic artist take director Randall Wright on an exclusive tour of his archives and into his studio, where he still paints seven days a week. The film, which looks ...
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Hockney sees the charismatic artist take director Randall Wright on an exclusive tour of his archives and into his studio, where he still paints seven days a week. The film, which looks back at Hockney's formative years in the British Pop Art scene and his experience of being a gay man as the Aids crisis took hold, as well as his years working in California.Written by
I don't know too much about David Hockney but have watched one or two recent Arts programmes on him and was curious to watch this documentary on his life and times. I came away from it very appreciative of his art if not learning too much about the innermost personality of a man who appears to have made a big splash with his life early on in the Pop Art-infused swinging 60's but to have gradually withdrawn within himself into his work as he has got older.
The narrative does follow a back-to-front framework as the viewer is guided through his life although I don't recall very often specific dates being spelt out for assimilation. The interviews with friends and associates are insightful and positive if less than critical, as I sense something cantankerous, provocative and difficult about him which seemed to get glossed over.
The key relationships in his life appear to be with the young lover he lived with for years, although again we're not told why they split up, the older American critic who helped get him established in the States and anchored him throughout his life and lastly his relationship with his family, particularly his father and most especially his long-lived mother.
The different phases of his artistic progress were well documented with special emphasis on his best known paintings like the portrait of Ossie Clark and his wife and of course "A Bigger Splash". I really enjoyed almost all of his work on display, right up to date with his work in different media, including photography and even works made up on an iPhone or iPad.
Present day Hockney is interviewed intermittently throughout the piece, and a device is made of framing some of his often cryptic sayings as almost chapter headings which put me in mind of his later practice of putting together compartments of pictures to make a bigger whole, even though I tired a bit of this sometimes pretentious prop.
I think I like the older, sager Hockney more than his flashier, often shocking younger self. I admired the way Hockney didn't suppress his homosexuality in the early 60's even when it was illegal in the UK up until 1967, but do wonder how he'd have gotten on if his artistic fame and fortune hadn't taken him to Los Angeles in the mid 60's, where he was freed from convention.
Nowadays he seems like a slightly solitary but still content old man, but hopefully with enough inspiration to go on into the future. No doubt he'll still be painting till he drops rather like his artistic hero Picasso.
I'm no art buff but I know what I like and while I was less keen on his earlier breakthrough works where he seemed to be pushing some sort of homosexual agenda, I enjoyed very much the work he created as he matured, rather in the same way, as I said earlier, I preferred the older to the younger man.
On the whole then I enjoyed this film of an interesting, complex and very talented man but just wondered as the credits rolled if he might have made a slightly more imaginative and revealing job of it himself, as I'm sure he could have done.
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