top of page

Art Index: David Hockney

Artist Biography

David Hockney, (born in Bradford, England, 9 July 1937) is an English painter, draftsman, printmaker, stage designer, and photographer. As an important contributor to the pop art movement of the 1960s, he is considered one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century.

Hockney has owned a residence and studio in Bridlington and London, as well as two residences in California, where he has lived intermittently since 1964: one in the Hollywood Hills, one in Malibu, and an office and archives on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, California.

On 15 November 2018, Hockney's 1972 work Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) sold at Christie's auction house in New York City for $90 million, becoming the most expensive artwork by a living artist sold at auction. This broke the previous record, set by the 2013 sale of Jeff Koons' Balloon Dog (Orange) for $58.4 million. Hockney held this record until 15 May 2019, Jeff Koons reclaimed the honour when his Rabbit sold for more than $91 million at Christie's in New York.

Hockney moved to Los Angeles in 1964, where he was inspired to make a series of paintings of swimming pools in the comparatively new acrylic medium using vibrant colours. The artist lived back and forth among Los Angeles, London, and Paris in the late 1960s to 1970s.

In November 2015 Hockney sold his house in Bridlington, cutting all his remaining ties with the town.

We Two Boys Together Clinging, 1961. © David Hockney. Photo credit: John Webb

His art

Hockney has experimented with painting, drawing, printmaking, watercolours, photography, and many other media including a fax machine, paper pulp, computer applications and iPad drawing programs. The subject matter of interest ranges from still lifes to landscapes, portraits of friends, his dogs, and stage designs for the Royal Court Theatre, Glyndebourne, and the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.

Hockney has explored the nature of gay love in his portraiture. Sometimes, as in We Two Boys Together Clinging (1961), named after a poem by Walt Whitman, the works refer to his love for men. In 1963, he painted two men together in the painting Domestic Scene, Los Angeles.

Domestic Scene, Los Angeles, 1963. © David Hockney


From 1968, and for the next few years, he painted portraits in a realistic style that adroitly captured the likenesses of his subjects.

In 2016, the Royal Academy exhibited Hockney's series entitled 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life which traveled to Ca' Pesaro in Venice, Italy, and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, in 2017 and to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2018. Hockney calls the paintings started in 2013 "twenty-hour exposures" because each sitting took six to seven hours on three consecutive days.


Hockney experimented with printmaking as early as a lithograph Self-Portrait in 1954 and worked in etchings during his time at RCA. In 1965, the print workshop Gemini G.E.L. approached him to create a series of lithographs with a Los Angeles theme. Hockney responded by creating The Hollywood Collection, a series of lithographs recreating the art collection of a Hollywood star, each piece depicting an imagined work of art within a frame.

In 1973 Hockney began a fruitful collaboration with Aldo Crommelynck, Picasso's preferred printer. In his atelier, he adopted Crommelynck's trademark sugar lift, as well as a system of the master's own devising of imposing a wooden frame onto the plate to ensure color separation.


In the early 1980s, Hockney began to produce photo collages first using Polaroid prints and subsequently 35mm, commercially

processed colour prints. Using Polaroid snaps or photolab-prints of a single subject, Hockney arranged a patchwork to make a composite image. Because the photographs are taken from different perspectives and at slightly different times, the result is work that has an affinity with Cubism, one of Hockney's major aims.

He began to work more with photography after this discovery and stopped painting for a while to exclusively pursue this new

technique. Frustrated with the limitations of photography and its 'one-eyed' approach, however, he returned to painting.

Other technology

Since 2009, Hockney has painted hundreds of portraits, still lifes and landscapes using the Brushes iPhone and iPad application. He used an iPad in designing a stained glass window at Westminster Abbey which celebrated the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. Unveiled in September 2018, the Queen's Window is located in the north transept of the Abbey and features a hawthorn blossom scene which is set in Yorkshire.

The Queen's window at Westminster Abbey

Plein air landscapes

Since 1998 Hockney returned to Yorkshire for longer and longer stays, and by 2003 was painting the countryside en plein air in both oils and watercolor. The oil paintings he produced after 2005 were influenced by his intensive studies in watercolour and created paintings made of multiple smaller canvases—two to fifty—placed together. To help him visualize work at that scale, he used digital photographic reproductions to study the day's work.

Auction Results

According to the website, €100 invested in a work by David Hockney in 2000 would be worth an average of €222 (+ 122%) in December 2020, with a turnover of almost 98,5 million $ in 2020 with 480 lots sold (price evolution is -14,2%) .

From 2010, Hockney’s biggest buyer is United States with a rank of 307,6 millions dollars (57,8 % of lots sold), followed by far by Uk (201 million dollars with 38% of lots sold)

Paintings remain his most requested artworks (81% ranking with 427 million dollars, 81% of the sales).

As far as we can know, there are not public auctions ongoing.



bottom of page