Artist of the week: David Hockney

David Hockney (British, b.1937) is a painter, photographer, and set designer, first associated with the Pop Art movement, and later renowned for his intimate portraits and naturalistic scenes of both the everyday and the artificial of California life. Hockney was born in Bradford, England, and studied at the Bradford School of Art, exhibiting an extraordinary aptitude for draftsmanship. He later attended the London Royal College of Art, where he met fellow student R.B. Kitaj (1932–2007), who strongly influenced him and inspired Hockney to infuse the personally expressive into his works.

Hockney’s first works included common and commercial images, such as boxes of tea, which caused his early inclusion with the Pop Art movement. Hockney also favored a mix of literature and scandalous subject matter in his early work, including pieces on homosexuality inspired by Walt Whitman poems created in the Art Brut style of Jean Dubuffet. His mature work often draws on photographs, particularly after visiting California regularly in the 1960s, where he created naturalistic paintings with a flat, serene appearance, including his famous Swimming Pools series. He works in many mediums, including set design and photography. Hockney has held major retrospectives at the Royal College of Art in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He currently lives and works in California.



Celia Observing (not in Scottish Arts Coucil or Tokyo), 1976, etching (ed. of 60), 90.2 x 74.9 cm.




Table Flowable, 1991, colour lithograph (ed.44/500), 111.8 x 144.8 cm.


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Artist of the week: A.R. Penck

A.R. Penck (German, b.1939) is a painter and sculptor active in East Berlin during the partition of the city after WWII. Penck’s work is unique for its primitivist stick-figures and signs, and his paintings employ a schematic idiom to convey universal ideas that are not tied down to a particular ideology of national agenda. Born Ralf Winker, Penck started painting at the age of 10 and continued his artistic career even after repeatedly denied acceptance into the art academies in East Berlin and Dresden.

Facing constant repercussions from East Berlin officials, in the early 1970s he started to work under the pseudonym of A.R. Penck, after studying the works of the former geologist, Albrecht Penck. Although he was not allowed to display his work in West Berlin, Penck was able to smuggle his work across the wall for exhibitions, and worked closely with the West German artist Jörg Immendorff (German, 1945–2007), whose work also addressed social and political concerns of the time. Penck used discarded objects as the inspiration behind many of his sculptures in the 1960s, and additionally incorporated wood and bronze into his work in the 1980s. Penck was also a jazz musician, theorist, and innovative writer, constantly returning to the social themes addressed in his artistic works. Penck acquired an exit visa from East Germany in 1980, and since then has worked in Dublin, London, Düsseldorf, and Cologne.



Systembild—Last, 2007, acrylic on canvas, 160 x 180 cm.



Standart, 2011, acrylic on paper, 80 x 60 cm. 


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The artists insomnia and what it leads to.

An artists mind never stops, and at times this can lead to the inevitable period of insomnia that occurs most nights. Tonight I was unable to get to sleep, so I decided to do some reading. I managed to plow through a couple of length articles in a recent issue of Art Forum (which has proved to be quite a good journal). I read two articles in particular that got me thinking. One was on the artist James Turrell, who works with large earth and architectural works working with light as his medium, on vastly different scales. The other article that I read was on a lesser known artist; Les Levine, a contemporary of Andy Warhol, his work is hard to pin down. He seemed to use the guises of minimalist, conceptual artist and post-minimalist as he needed to. His work is multi-disciplinary, involving elaborate multimedia installations of closed circuit television and light and sound to larger outdoor works. I am not here to delve too deeply into each artists biography or their practice for a matter of fact. This bit of writing is more about my own creative thought process. I used to think that artists like these were hacks, “bullshit artists”. But it hasn’t been until recent times that I have begun to take an interest in the conceptual part of their practice, that is to say the thoughts and ideas that they come up with before creating a work. People don’t fully appreciate the amount of planning these artists would go through just to organize one outdoor work, or even something more contained. It is this interest in these artists work that generates thought for my own practice, even though our practices vary quite dramatically, the processes of thought and concept are almost the one and the same. I think that I am just generally amazed that I managed to find artists like these interesting, and furthermore; it leading to my own practice being enriched. 


So take note, read widely, don’t just read about painting if you’re a painter, or just about sculpture etc, read more, watch documentaries, interviews etc. Gain knowledge, even if you’re not an artist, just more of an art enthusiast, a collector of art etc. Anyways, I hope that this ramble made some sort of sense to whoever may be reading this, below I have linked some potential avenues of research on the aforementioned artists.