Interior with Blue Terrace and Garden

80th birthday retrospectives

For the past few decades, Hockney has resisted the idea of a retrospective opting for large thematically-based shows that featured recent work. With his 80th birthday around the corner, he agrees to a full-life retrospective. Co-organized by Tate Britain, Centre Pompidou, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with venues at each, the show is a sweeping survey of work from 1953 to 2017.

Reverse perspective

Within months of the June opening at the Pompidou in Paris, Hockney begins a group of paintings that take him in a new direction. He cuts off the lower corners of a rectangular canvas to create a hexagon. The shape allows him to give the [NESTED]illusion of a widening picture with aspects painted in reverse perspective. In time for the Pompidou show, he completes four canvases in the new shape.

Someone said I was cutting corners, but actually, I’ve added two .... Why didn’t I think of this twenty years ago?

Someone said I was cutting corners, but actually, I’ve added two .... Why didn’t I think of this twenty years ago?

A Bigger Interior with Blue Terrace and Garden, 2017
Annunciation I, Interior and Exterior with Flowers from "The Brass Tacks Triptych"
Annunciation II, after Fra Angelico from "The Brass Tacks Triptych"
Birth and Copulation and Death. That's all the facts when you come to brass tacks. from "The Brass Tacks Triptych"

President Macron and his wife visit the Pompidou show shortly before it opens to the public in June. Hockney accompanies them through the exhibition.

President Macron and Hockney

At the start of their visit, I was a little nervous, as I am not used to meeting heads of state. I was quickly reassured as Mr. Macron speaks very good English—which suits me just fine—and he was very interested and curious. He asked me a lot of questions about my work and my techniques.

Pompidou installation

Portraits on tour

In the same year, 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life is on its way to three more venues. In June the show opens at Ca' Pesaro in Venice;[NESTED] it then travels to the Guggenheim Bilbao and the Los Angeles Country Museum of Art (in 2018).

Augustus and Perry Barringer, 16th, 17th June 2014 from "82 Portraits and 1 Still Life", 2014
Augustus and Perry Barringer, 16th, 17th June 2014 from "82 Portraits and 1 Still Life", 2014

Hobbema revisited

The exhibitions and birthday celebrations have not slowed Hockney’s work in the studio. Reaching back in history once again, Hockney turns to the Dutch Golden Age landscape painter Meinert Hobbema's (1638-1709) The Avenue at Middelharnis (1689), his one-point perspective tour de force. Hockney puzzles out an array of four hexagonal and two square canvases to revisit the scene in acrylic. The v-shaped juncture of the hexagons provides the perfect void to represent the receding avenue, and on either side Hockney adds landscapes painted in reverse perspective.

After Hobbema (Useful Knowledge) 2017, 2017

Hockney continues to paint on hexagonal canvases and revisits some of his most memorable subjects using reverse perspective: Garrowby Hill, Nichols Canyon Road, the Grand Canyon, Hotel Acatlan, and the Alhambra Alcazar.

Hither and Dither
Still Life
A Picture of a Lion
Snail Crawling to a Bust
Garrowby Hill
Nichols Canyon II
Perspective is Tunnel Vision, Outside It Opens Up
Nichols Canyon III
Grand Canyon I
Grand Canyon II
Walk Around the Alcazar
Walk Around Hotel Acatlan

Celebration at the Getty

Birthday parties and exhibitions abound in this 80th year, and the Getty Museum gets on board with Happy Birthday, Mr. Hockney!—actually, two separate exhibitions of his work—one focusing on the composite Polaroids and photographic collages and the other on self portraits.

Self Portrait with Red Braces, 2003

Swimming Pool

Hockney decides to repaint the swimming pool at his Hollywood Hills home. The target date is July 8, the day before he turns 80 years old. It turns out to be the hottest day of the year in L.A., but with careful planning and an early morning start, Hockney finishes the task in under three hours.

Hockney standing in his freshly painted pool. Photograph by Richard Schmidt


Hockney has had an almost four-decade long association with the San Francisco Opera, and in this year the company restores and revives his production of Turandot. Hockney attends the performance on December 3. At the conclusion of the curtain calls, Hockney strides onto the stage to thunderous applause and cheers. He is joined by General Director Matthew Shilvock who makes a presentation. “There are rare moments in opera history when a visual artist of extraordinary renown enters the opera house and brings [NESTED]about a breathtaking union of art and music. We have just experienced one such moment …. It is my great honor to present David Hockney with our highest award, the San Francisco Opera Medal.”

This is the first time I’ve been at the opera for a long time, and it was terrific!

This is the first time I’ve been at the opera for a long time, and it was terrific!

Hockney wearing the San Francisco Opera Medal, Photo by Drew Altizer
Photo by Drew Altizer Photography

3D photography

Before the year is over, Hockney turns his attention once again to photography, or as he says, “a combination of photography and drawing and printing, each bringing out the best in the other.” Hockney turns the camera on his studio where recent paintings hang alongside furniture, easels, and the SUMO book on its tripod stand. Assisted by Jonathan Wilkinson, he takes thousands of photographs capturing each object with 360-degree views. He then spends hours at the computer arranging and drawing in 3D. The final result is a 3D picture in which the objects have a solid quality and appear to pop right off the wall. 

I always knew that one day photography would be able to do this, but I didn’t think I would be the one who would do it.

I always knew that one day photography would be able to do this, but I didn’t think I would be the one who would do it.

In the Studio, December 2017, 2017

Portraits in charcoal

Portrait making has been an essential part of Hockney’s practice since his earliest days in Bradford. Now, he stops the frenetic pace of painting and 3D photography to do the occasional portrait. This time he works in charcoal on primed canvas sometimes adding color with crayon. The first portrait is of Olympic diver and fellow Brit Tom Daley.  Before the year is over, he adds portraits of Milou Drici, Bing McGilvray, and Doug Roberts to his list of works in the medium.



  • David Hockney: Digital Drawing, Annely Juda Fine Art, London, UK (Jan 26–Mar 25).
  • David Hockney, Tate Britain, London, UK (Feb 9–May 29); catalogue.
  • David Hockney: The Yosemite Suite, Galerie Lelong, Paris, France (May 20–Jul 13); catalogue.
  • David Hockney, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France (Jun 21–Oct 23); catalogue.
  • David Hockney RA: 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life, Ca' Pesaro, Venice, Italy (Jun 24–Oct 22); catalogue.
  • Happy Birthday, Mr. Hockney (Self portraits), J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA, USA (Jun 27–Nov 26).
  • Happy Birthday, Mr. Hockney (Photographic collages), J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA, USA (Jul 18–Nov 26).
  • David Hockney Works On Paper, 1965–2009, Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York, NY, USA (Nov 9, 2017–Jan 13, 2018).
  • David Hockney RA: 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life, Guggenheim Bilbao, Bilbao, Spain (Nov 10, 2017–Feb 25, 2018); catalogue.
  • David Hockney: Prints, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia (Nov 11, 2017–May 27, 2018), travels to Cairns Art Gallery, QLD, Australia (Feb 15–Apr 21, 2019); Araluen Art Centre, Alice Springs, NT (May 3–Jun 16, 2019); Hazlehurst Regional Gallery, NSW (Jun 28–Aug 2, 2019); Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, VIC (Oct 5–Dec 1, 2019); catalogue.
  • David Hockney, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA (Nov 27, 2017–Feb 25, 2018); catalogue.


  • Spaces without drama or surface is an illusion, but so is depth, Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Chicago, IL, USA (Feb 16–Jul 1).
  • Queer British Art, Tate Britain, London, UK (Apr 5–Oct 1); catalogue.
  • Coming Out: An Incomplete Art History since 1967, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK (Jul 28–Nov 5).



  • David Hockney (Softbound Edition), Tate, London.
  • David Hockney L'Exposition / The Exhibition, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.
  • David Hockney: The Complete Early Etchings 1961–1964, Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert, London: Lyndsey Ingram.
  • David Hockney: The Yosemite Suite, Galerie Lelong, Paris.
  • Meet the Artist David Hockney, An Art Activity Book, by Rose Blake, London: Tate Publishing.
  • David Hockney, by Didier Ottinger, Paris.
  • David Hockney, by Chris Stephens and Andrew Wilson, London.



Exhibition on Screen: David Hockney at the Royal Academy of Arts, 85 min., directed by Phil Grabsky.



  • San Francisco Opera Medal.
Milou Drici
Bing McGilvray I
Doug Roberts
We use cookies to analyze our traffic. Please decide if you are willing to accept cookies from our website.