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David Hockney drawings to go on display in major new exhibition

David Hockney (Victoria Jones/PA)
David Hockney (Victoria Jones/PA)

The National Portrait Gallery is to stage an exhibition of David Hockney’s drawings, spanning self-portraits from his school days to his new work.

The show will be the first major display devoted to Hockney as a draughtsman in more than 20 years.

It will explore the “many different stylistic turns” the artist, now 81, has taken, from the 1950s to the present day.

Self Portrait by David Hockney
Self Portrait by David Hockney (David Hockney/PA)

Sketchbooks from Hockney’s art school days in Bradford will go on display, alongside new and previously unseen works.

The exhibition will feature portraits in pencil, pastel, ink and watercolour, as well as those taken with a Polaroid camera and using iPhone and iPad apps.

Highlights will include a selection of drawings from an intense period of self-scrutiny during the 1980s, when Hockney created a self-portrait every day over a period of two months.

David Hockney's Mother, Bradford, 19 Feb 1978, by David Hockney, (Richard Schmidt/David Hockney/PA)
David Hockney’s Mother, Bradford, 19 Feb 1978 (Richard Schmidt/David Hockney/PA)

Other subjects include his muse Celia Birtwell, his mother Laura Hockney, and friends.

Around 150 works from public and private collections across the world, as well as the artist himself, will go on show in the spring of 2020.

They include unseen works such as his studies for A Rake’s Progress (1961-63), inspired by the identically named series of 18th century prints by William Hogarth.

Curator Sarah Howgate said: “For the first time, Drawing From Life presents a series of jewel-like portraits of four sitters dear to David’s heart, as well as self-portraits dating from his schoolboy days in the 1950s, right up to his self-scrutiny of the new millennium.

Celia Carennac August 1971, by David Hockney, (Richard Schmidt/David Hockney/PA)
Celia Carennac August 1971, by David Hockney (Richard Schmidt/David Hockney/PA)

“This intimate journey in line demonstrates and celebrates the master draughtsman that David remains to this day.”

The exhibition will show how drawing has often been a testing ground for ideas later played out in Hockney’s paintings.

They will “reveal his admiration for both the Old Masters and modern masters, from Holbein to Matisse.”

National Portrait Gallery director Nicholas Cullinan said the exhibition would feature “drawings by one of the most internationally respected and renowned artists alive today.

“By focusing on Hockney as a supreme draughtsman and his intimate and revealing sustained depictions of sitters over time (including himself), the exhibition will demonstrate his constant and continuing ingenuity with portrait drawings which reference both tradition and technology – from Ingres to the iPad.”

Hockney is famous for his paintings of Californian life and Yorkshire landscapes.

A stained glass window designed by Hockney to celebrate the Queen’s reign was unveiled last year at Westminster Abbey.

David Hockney: Drawing From Life will run at the National Portrait Gallery in London from February 27 to June 28 2020.

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