The National Portrait Gallery in London has temporarily closed its doors on March 18 to help contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Behind the closed doors are about 150 of David Hockney’s drawings, created over the last fifty years.

David Hockney: Drawing from Life at the National Portrait Gallery, London

Even though the National Portrait Gallery has closed its doors, but thanks to modern technology, we can still get a glimpse of David Hockney’s amazing works at the Gallery’s website.

David Hockney: Drawing from Life is the first major exhibit of Hockney’s drawings in more than twenty years. On display is a collection of portraits of just five people: Hockney himself, his mother, Laura Hockney, curator and friend Gregory Evans, printer and friend, Maurice Payne, and textile designer and friend, Celia Birtwell.

The portraits are done in a variety of mediums and colors, but the common thread, that runs through them all, is the care that Hockney feels for his subjects.

He did his first drawing of Celia Birtwell in Paris, in 1969, when she was 28, and he’s still doing drawings of her to this day, at age 78. Hockney was best man at her wedding. The marriage didn’t last, but Hockney and Birtwell’s friendship has survived more than fifty years.

Celia with Green Hat, available at VFA, was done in 1984, just a year before he was asked to do a 40-page spread for the Paris edition of Vogue magazine, and had her portrait placed on the cover.

An edition of Celia with Green Hat is part of the collection of the Tate, London.

David Hockney’s Evolution

Who would have thought that the telephone would bring back drawing? – David Hockney

Last month, one of David Hockney’s iconic pool paintings, sold at Sotheby’s auction for $29.8 million. Hockney was inspired by the colors and lifestyle of his home in Hollywood Hills, where he took up residence in 1964. He kept a home and studio in London, and has always been Britain’s most loved artist.

Last year Hockney moved to Normandy, because he says that he got fed up with the smoking bans in the U.S. and can now  stop work for an hour or two and have lunch and a cigarette in a Normandy cafe.

At 82, he’s not about to give up smoking, or painting on canvas, but he has expanded his work to include drawing with his iPad.

Amazingly, Hockney has been able to get the same incredible colors and qualities in his iPad work as in his paintings and prints.

David Hockney’s Work at VFA

Please contact us if you would like more information about Celia with Green Hat, My Shirt and Trousers or any of the other fine are available at VFA.

References:
Jonathan Jones. David Hockney: Drawing from Life review – stripping subjects down to their gym socks. The Guardian. February 25, 2020.
Hadley Freeman. Celia Birtwell on David Hockney: Nobody else has ever asked me’.The Guardian. February 25, 2020.
Tabish Khan. Nobody Draws It Better Than David Hockney At National Portrait Gallery. Londonist. February 26, 2020.
Taylor Dafoe. Artist David Hockney Is Moving to France Because It’s Illegal to Smoke Practically Anywhere in America. artnetnews. September 11, 2019.
Jacopo Prisco. David Hockney’s ‘The Splash’ sells for $29.8 million. CNN, Arts. Updated February 12, 2020.