I just finished A Rake’s Progress, the new biography of David Hockey; I remember some of his swimming pools from my time at the Art Institute, but I’ve gained an inspiring respect for the artist now that I’ve learned a lot of the story behind his work. One of the things I loved most about the biography was how it retold so many of the personal anecdotes relating to the portraits that Hockney painted. The above portrait, American Collectors, was commissioned by the couple pictured, but Hockney took so many liberties with the feeling and narrative elements of the scene that they “hated the picture so much that they decided to take it out of circulation by buying it and donating it to the Pasadena Museum, with the stipulation that it should be kept in the basement”.
Reading artists’ biographies is always inspiring in unexpected ways. This week I want to watch Painters Painting, starring some of my favorite Abstract Expressionists, and A Bigger Splash, about Hockney, which I learned about in A Rake’s Progress.