Newspaper article International New York Times

Hockney's Expanding Viewpoint ; De Young Exhibition Showcases the Artist's Modernist Landscapes

Newspaper article International New York Times

Hockney's Expanding Viewpoint ; De Young Exhibition Showcases the Artist's Modernist Landscapes

Article excerpt

"David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition," at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, focuses mainly on Mr. Hockney's recent work.

At 76, David Hockney is in one of his primes, and apparently he knows it. Not for nothing is his exuberant, immersive survey at the de Young Museum here cheekily titled "David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition."

This sprawling romp through more than 300 works in several mediums and technologies fills 10 often large galleries and yet primarily covers work from the last decade of Mr. Hockney's 60-year career. It is dominated by radiant landscapes -- some the size of murals -- of the fields and woods in different seasons of East Yorkshire in Britain, near where Mr. Hockney was born and grew up.

Canvases like "The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven)" argue convincingly that early modernist styles from Post Impressionism to Fauvism and beyond are grounds for further development. Synthesizing aspects of Munch, Klimt, Derain, Cezanne, van Gogh and late Bonnard, these works are alluringly modern for their startling colors -- roads of light magenta, tree trunks of purple or orange, along with quantities of different greens and yellows -- their notably nonprecious, dashed-off tactility of surface, their welcoming spaciousness and bold internal scale, and their often Abstract Expressionist size.

With an emphasis on bucolic farmland that seems very British, they nonetheless convey the grandeur of nature, still the mother of us all, and of all art. And they also confirm Mr. Hockney's theory that representational painting can tell you more about reality and perception than either photography or the human eye, which is one reason it can still thrill.

The exhibition was selected and designed by Gregory Evans, Mr. Hockney's curator and manager of business and exhibitions, working with Richard Benefield, deputy director of the de Young. It is divided into sections with titles like "En Plein Air," "From Pixels to Print," "Looking Up" and "Back to Basics." The landscape paintings are joined by watercolors, a suite of exceptional charcoal landscapes and portraits, and self-portraits in several mediums.

Mr. Hockney has always been a prolific artist ever more curious about how two-dimensional works convey the complexities of actual experience. He has been an art star since he emerged in the early 1960s with a personalized Pop painting style in which figures of an Egyptian stiffness were seen against flat backgrounds. Since then his career might be described in terms of his growing awareness of illusionistic space in his own work and throughout the history of painting, encouraged by his experience with cameras both still and moving and his opera-set designs.

After Mr. Hockney settled in Los Angeles in 1964, his art became increasingly involved with real light and space. …

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