David and Alexandre-Gustave

David Hockney, national (and local) treasure. Even just silently flipping through his sketchbook is a calming joy.

David Hockney shows us his sketch book, page by pageOpen Culture
Though filled up the previous year, the artist’s sketchbook depicts a quiet world of domestic spaces and unpeopled outdoor scenes that will look oddly familiar to many viewing it after 2020.

He’s not without his share of critics, though.

‘Brilliant’ or totally phoned in? David Hockney’s new design for the London Tube is sparking merciless mockery onlineArtnet News
To be fair, Hockney reportedly made the illustration for free. And no one actually thinks he forgot to leave room for the “s.” In reality, he probably made the piece on his iPad, perhaps between rounds of Fruit Ninja, one hand on the tablet, the other pinching a lit cigarette. He was likely trying to instill in the design the same sense of childlike hope that has underscored much of his recent work, such as his 116 new spring-themed iPad paintings opening this month at London’s Royal Academy of Arts.

Eddy Frankel, Time Out’s art and culture editor, has the correct response, I think.

Mind the Gap: why Hockney’s Piccadilly Line roundel uproar signifies a deepening disconnect between art and the publicIt’s Nice that
So how did an 80-year-old with an iPad manage to cause uproar? Because the government is cutting 50 per cent of funding to higher level arts education in the UK. Because kids aren’t taken around museums, because they’re not taught about why cubism matters, or why a urinal can be art.

The temptation is to blame everyday people for not getting Hockney, when the truth is that this is the result of years and years of arts education being shoved into the background and decimated through an endless, attritional cultural war. The education secretary Gavin Williamson just said: “The record number of people taking up science and engineering demonstrates that many are already starting to pivot away from dead-end courses that leave young people with nothing but debt.”

He’s genuinely gleeful about people not studying art. That’s what it means to the people in power, and that heinous attitude trickles down through every facet of society.

Someone makes a thing for the public, some like it, others really don’t — same old story.

PleaFutility Closet
Are we going to allow all this beauty and tradition to be profaned? Is Paris now to be associated with the grotesque and mercantile imagination of a machine builder, to be defaced and disgraced? Even the commercial Americans would not want this Eiffel Tower which is, without any doubt, a dishonor to Paris. We all know this, everyone says it, everyone is deeply troubled by it. We, the Committee, are but a faint echo of universal sentiment, which is so legitimately outraged. When foreign visitors come to our universal exposition, they will cry out in astonishment, ‘What!? Is this the atrocity that the French present to us as the representative of their vaunted national taste?’

Happy birthday Mr Hockney

Look back at Hockney’s visits to Bradford over the yearsBradford Telegraph and Argus
Legendary Bradford-born artist David Hockey celebrates his 83rd birthday today. Here are a few images of the legendary figure’s trips to his home district over the years and some well wishes from Bradford-based groups.

A Dutchman and two Yorkshire men

It was Van Gogh’s birthday the other week. Martin Bailey from The Art Newspaper takes a look at what he was doing on 30 March each year. It ends quite poignantly.

A concise guide to Van Gogh’s adult life: how the artist celebrated his birthday over the yearsThe Art Newspaper
Theo was very worried, writing to him on 29 March: “How pleased I would be to be able to go and see you tomorrow to shake your hand on your birthday. Will it be a celebration for you, or are you still in a state where you find yourself unhappy?” Vincent’s mother posted him a tin of chocolate and sewed him a tobacco pouch. She wrote to Theo: “May the 30th of March not be too unhappy for Vincent. Poor fellow, may he see better days.”

Let’s be more positive and remind ourselves of the joy he took in nature, with this interview with David Hockney from last year at the Van Gogh Museum.

David Hockney on Vincent van Gogh: Full interviewVan Gogh Museum
From 1 March, the colossal works of David Hockney will be on display in the Netherlands. For the first time, this spectacular exhibition offers an extensive and colourful exploration of the common ground between the work of Vincent van Gogh and David Hockney.

Hockney: ‘His paintings are full of movement. What people love about Van Gogh’s paintings is that all the brush marks are visible and you can see how they are painted. When you’re drawing one blade of grass you’re looking and then you see more. And then you see the other blades of grass and you’re always seeing more. Well, that’s exciting to me and it was exciting to Van Gogh. I mean, he saw very clearly’.

That visit to the Netherlands wasn’t without incident, but here’s an interview with another artist from Yorkshire whose latest work goes back to nature in a visually similar way.

Interview: Damien HirstIdler
I’d always made more money the next year than the year before. But it was unsustainable and it bites your arse. They all love you. The bank loves you, and the accountants love you, because they’re taking your money. Every year you get more and more people as well. One guy is taking 10 per cent and then it’s another guy taking 10 per cent and another guy taking 10 per cent and it’s all a big party. But before you know it, suddenly you’ve got an overdraft when before you had loads of cash. The people who give you the overdraft are your best mates as well, smiling at you and telling you that you’re amazing so you keep doing it. […]

You start by thinking you’ll get one assistant and before you know it you’ve got biographers, fire eaters, jugglers, fucking minstrels and lyre players all wandering around. They’re all saying they aren’t being paid enough and they all need assistants. Then one night you ask the lyre player to play for you and they say: “My lyre is all scratched up and I did ask for a lyre technician but you said not yet and if I had one I could come and play for you now.” So you’ve got to have a lyre technician and then you better get him an Uber account too.

Hockney to the rescue

It’s lovely to see some more of his stuff.

David Hockney shares exclusive art from Normandy, as ‘a respite from the news’BBC News
“Why are my iPad drawings seen as a respite from the news? Well, they are obviously made by the hand depicting the renewal that is the spring in this part of the world.”

The point being that his images are the product of him looking directly at nature and depicting or representing what he sees by transmitting his sensory reaction through his fingers onto paper via a pencil, rather than mediating the process through a photograph.

His pictures are a record of how he, uniquely, is experiencing reality of his subject and the space in which it exists. The one-eyed mechanical camera flattens out all this individual nuance.

hockney-to-the-rescue-1
hockney-to-the-rescue-2
hockney-to-the-rescue-3

“The only real things in life are food and love in that order, just like our little dog Ruby. I really believe this and the source of art is love.”

I was blown away when I first saw his ipad paintings up close in Saltaire. These look just as charming.

David Hockney’s iPad artwork goes on displayBBC News
An exhibition of artwork drawn on a tablet computer by artist David Hockney has opened in Saltaire, West Yorkshire. The 33 images depict the arrival of spring in the Yorkshire Wolds in 2011.

hockney-to-the-rescue-4

Spring has sprung, don’t forget

Let’s take a break from all the news about job losses, exam cancellations and social distancing failures to remind ourselves of the date. It’s the first day of Spring!

Spring Equinox 2020: 5 weird traditions to celebrate the first day of Spring todayMirror Online
There is an ancient Chinese belief that you can stand an egg on its end on the first day of spring. The theory goes that, due to the sun’s equidistant position between the poles of the earth at the time of the equinox, special gravitational forces apply.

Or was it yesterday?

Today marks the earliest “first day of Spring” in 124 years for CanadaNarcity
March has always marked the beginning of springtime. For the northern hemisphere, that date has fallen on the 20 and 21 for as long as you can probably remember. That’s because, March 19, the first day of spring 2020, is the earliest it’s been in 124 years.

Either way, it gives me a chance to share this, from David Hockney.

spring

A message from David Hockney: ‘Do remember they can’t cancel the spring’The Art Newspaper
David Hockney is currently in complete lockdown in Normandy, where he has been since his last exhibition opening. But he is still producing beautiful things, which he wanted to share with us as something positive.