The National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian is honoring seven extraordinary individuals who have made transformative contributions to the United States and its people with the 2022 Portrait of a Nation Awards.
One of those awards is going to Clive Davis, who will be represented in the Gallery by a portrait creative by David Hockney.
Davis is a record producer, lawyer and philanthropist who has won five Grammys and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a non-performer in 2000.
What makes the painting so special is not just the subject, but the fact that David Hockney accepted the commission. He has always painted friends and family and rarely accepts commissions. He even refused to paint a portrait of Queen Elizabeth, but did accept a commission to design a series of stained glass windows for Westminster Abbey in 2018.
He also accepted a commission last year, from London’s mayor, to design a sign for the Piccadilly Circus underground station. His simple design, a bright yellow circle, with Piccadilly Circus written in a rectangle across the center, received a lot of ribbing from the public…some who thought they could do better. But Hockney is a genius, his sign unforgettable.
Hockney has always been interested in technology, even the technology used by artists during the 15th and 16th century Renaissance. He and physicist Charles M. Falco studied the works of the Old Masters and concluded that they used instruments, like the camera obscura, curved mirrors and other optical tools to get the accuracy and realism in their works. In 2001, Hockney published Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters.
His fascination with new technology led Hockney to use Polaroids when they were first developed. He has become a master of the iPad. Five leading galleries, in London, Paris, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, will be exhibiting some of his iPad drawings this month.
David Hockney’s digital works have been shown in museums and galleries around the world. His subject matter is recognizable, he is one of the world’s most beloved, and sought after, artists. His 1972 painting, Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) sold at Christie’s New York for $90 million in 2018.
Artists, like Tyler Hobbs, are creating digital, or generative art, and have taken the use of technology a step further than David Hockney has…so far.
Hobbs studied painting and drawing and has a B.S. degree in Computer Science. He uses his drawings as inspiration for his works. He creates a unique computer program for each piece and works with a printshop to complete each work.
Museums like MoMA and the Guggenheim have recently hired curators to focus on acquiring and displaying generative art.
Museums have been historically slow to embrace new technology. The first photography exhibit in an American museum was held at the Buffalo Albright-Know Art Gallery Museum in 1910…100 years after the invention of photography.
We have recently acquired works by Tyler Hobbs, whose generative art pieces are some of the most sought after in the art market.
Farah Nayeri. David Hockney Wouldn’t Paint the Queen. But He Made Her a Stained-Glass Window. The New York Times. October 2, 2018.
Elaine Velie. Fauci and Williams Sisters Honored in New Portraits Headed to DC. Hyperallergic. November 1, 2022.
National Portrait Gallery Announces “Portrait of a Nation: 2022 Honorees,” Exhibition of Newly Commissioned Portraits, To Open Nov. 10. The Smithsonian. November 1, 2022.
Fang Block. David Hockney’s Digital Paintings to Go on an International Exhibition. Barrons/Penta. October 20, 2022.
Lucy Middleton. Londoners think they can do better as they mock new Piccadilly Circus design Metro/London. May 12, 2021.
Chris Williams. Fidenza Creator Tyler Hobbs Raises $16.75M on QQL NFT Drop. Crypto Briefing. September 28, 2022.
Zachary Small. Even as NFTs Plummet, Digital Artists Find Museums Are Calling. The New York Times. November 2, 2022.