David Hockney at the Tate
In 1988 David Hockney – painter, graphic artist, photographer, stage designer, writer – had a major retrospective at the Tate Gallery. Author and presenter Melvyn Bragg met with Hockney at what is now Tate Britain to film an interview for The South Bank Show. Since he burst on to the art scene in the mid-1960s, Hockney has become one of the most successful modern British painters and also a popular personality, known for his passionate and skilled advocacy of art. This film benefits from his irresistable charm.
Hockney and Bragg walk through the Tate exhibition together and discuss the paintings and photographs that make up the exhibition. The Bradford-born Hockney makes a charming and informative guide, with little shyness about discussing his work or the people, places and process that inspires it.
The exhibition is arranged along chronological lines, and so the interview begins with a painting, Portrait of my father, that Hockney painted at seventeen. Then on to We two boys together clinging, 1961, which introduces the Hockney motif of putting lettering into a painting. Hockney notes that here was his desire to ‘push away [Walter] Sickert’ and the Camden School of painters, who he saw as the overwhelmingly dominant influences where he was studying at the Royal College of Art.
The two men proceed to discuss the paintings of swimming pools that Hockney made his trademark in the mid-1960s after moving to Los Angeles. Then it’s on to his portraiture and the double portraits that are, Hockney quips, ‘Twice as interesting as the single portrait.’
There is also an interesting segment on Hockney’s experiments with perspective. In the painting Kirby (after Hogarth) Hockney explains that he has essentially copied a Victorian engraving that aimed to demonstrate examples of poor painterly perspective. The engraving actually spurred him to innovations in his own style, the most compelling examples of which are 1980s Mulholland Drive: The Road to the Studio and A Visit with Christopher and Don.
The interview also includes footage of Hockney painting and discussion of his work in photography, particularly his photo collages or ‘joiners’, and his theatrical set designs.
Extras include an information booklet, picture gallery and trailer.
This and Hockney’s two other DVDs may be purchased together as a boxed set, The Hockney Collection.
Art Lives, from Arthaus, is a series of compelling documentaries on artists and art movements released for the first time on DVD in the English language.