Portrait Surrounded by Artistic Devices

1965

Hockney, David
Friends and family are frequently the subjects of David Hockney’s portraits, with his mother, Laura (1900–99), a particular favourite over several decades. Here, the sitter is his father, Kenneth (1904–78), who was well known in Bradford for his strong political views and eccentric character. As Hockney noted, ‘he taught me not to care what the neighbours think’. Based on a drawing made from life, he is affectionately painted in the smart clothing he liked to wear. Surrounding him are various ‘artistic devices’ showing different styles of painting, playing with colour, shape, depth and geometry. These forms are references to other artists’ work, in particular Paul Cézanne who talked about treating nature in terms of ‘the cylinder, the sphere and the cone’, while the flat, abstract brushstrokes on the two-dimensional shelf and the colourful shapes refer to contemporary abstraction. It has been suggested that this work is an oblique criticism of modernism, with Hockney implying that the human element of art, as represented here by a loved parent, should not be overwhelmed by adherence to theory.
  • Artwork Details: 152.4 x 182.9cm
  • Edition:
  • Material description: acrylic on canvas
  • Credit line: © David Hockney
  • Theme: Portrait
  • Medium: Painting
  • Accession number: AC 823

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The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

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