Friday, May 18, 2012
‘David Hockney: A Rake’s Progress’ by Christopher Simon Sykes
Alfredo Aldai/European Pressphoto Agency
The casual David Hockney fan thinks immediately of his crayon-bright Los Angeles landscapes, saturated in heat and light, and the childlike interiors rendered with the charm of Matisse. We think of the dazzle of his incomparable swimming pool paintings — the chaotic splash of the water and the cool geometrics of the pool. The jagged Cubism of his photo-collages. The carefully observed portraits of family and friends. And the meditative calm of his still lifes: a clutch of tulips or lilies in a vase, a teacup and wineglass, or some peeled lemons sitting incandescently on a plate.
DAVID HOCKNEY - A Rake’s Progress
by Christopher Simon Sykes
Illustrated. 363 pages. an A. Talese/Doubleday. $35.
Because of Mr. Hockney’s popularity and critical acclaim, the outlines — and many details — of his life are well known, documented in a host of earlier books, magazine and newspaper articles, and interviews. As a result, Christopher Simon Sykes’s new biography, “David Hockney: A Rake’s Progress,” retraces a lot of familiar ground: his childhood in the Yorkshire region of England, where his eccentric, politically active father impressed on him the importance of not minding “what the neighbors think”; the lessons he assimilated from disparate artists like Picasso, Dubuffet, Francis Bacon and the Abstract Expressionists; and his swift ascent in the art world in the swinging London of the 1960s.
This first installment of a projected two-volume biography provides a pleasant, if not terribly groundbreaking introduction to Mr. Hockney’s life and work, tracking the evolution of his radiant art from boyhood scribbles through triumphant stage designs for the opera “The Rake’s Progress” in 1975, when this book abruptly leaves off.