David Hockney 82 Portraits and 1 Still Life at The Royal Academy.

david hockney 82 portraits and 1 still life

In one of the most anticipated art shows of the year, artist David Hockney exhibits 82 portraits of his friends and colleagues, each painted in his Los Angeles studio within three days time. The portraits, now showing at the Royal Academy, are his first large creative endeavor following the tragic death of his young assistant which left him creatively paralyzed for months.

David Hockney 82 Portraits and 1 Still Life

Margaret Hockney, 14th, 15th, 16th August, 2015 ©David Hockney.
Margaret Hockney, 14th, 15th, 16th August, 2015 ©David Hockney.

Hockney began working on the series of portraits in his Los Angeles studio, where he spent the last three years after the tragic death of his 23 year old assistant and friend Dominic Elliot in his Bridlington home in 2013. Hockney sold the home in the English countryside because of the emotional trauma. The artist told the media that he suffered from such severe creative difficulties after the death he was unable to paint for four months.

David Hockney stands in front of some of his 82 portraits, photo by David Parry
David Hockney stands in front of some of his 82 portraits, photo by David Parry

Artnet reports that “After a long silence, Hockney managed to create a portrait of his studio assistant and friend, Jean-Pierre Gonçalves de Lima (JP), which became the first portrait of the series. It captures JP, who was equally devastated by Elliot’s death, sitting inconsolable, head buried in his hands. The painting seems to have been cathartic as it prompted a reignited Hockney to create the series.”

Hockney’s portrait of Jean-Pierre Gonçalves de Lima (JP), 11 July, which prompted the series

Each on a 48 x 36 inch canvas, the portraits began pouring out of Hockney’s Los Angeles studio in a headlong rush of productivity.

Celia Birtwell, 31st August, 1st, 2nd September, 2015 ©David Hockney
Celia Birtwell, 31st August, 1st, 2nd September, 2015 ©David Hockney
Dagny Corcoran, 15th, 16th, 17th January, 2014 ©David Hockney
Dagny Corcoran, 15th, 16th, 17th January, 2014 ©David Hockney
John Baldessari, 13th, 16th December, 2013 ©David Hockney
John Baldessari, 13th, 16th December, 2013 ©David Hockney
David Juda, 22nd, 23rd, 25th March 2015 ©David Hockney
David Juda, 22nd, 23rd, 25th March 2015 ©David Hockney

Eventually the comprehensive portrait collection of his friends, family and acquaintances became the exhibition 82 Portraits and 1 Still?life, which opens today at the Royal Academy in London and runs through October 2, 2016.


above: the Book accompanying the exhibit is available here

The subjects of the portraits include not only friends and family but also office staff, fellow artists, curators and gallerists.

Hockney at work on his portrait of Barry Humphries in his LA studio
Hockney at work on his portrait of Barry Humphries in his LA studio

Each is painted the same size, sitting on the same chair and against the same blue background. And all were painted within three days.

Barry Humphries, 26th, 27th, 28th March 2015 ©David Hockney
Barry Humphries, 26th, 27th, 28th March 2015 ©David Hockney
Rita Pynoos, 1st, 2nd March 2014 ©David Hockney
Rita Pynoos, 1st, 2nd March 2014 ©David Hockney
Edith Devaney, 11th, 12th, 13th February, 2016 ©David Hockney
Edith Devaney, 11th, 12th, 13th February, 2016 ©David Hockney
Earl Simms, 29th February, 1st, 2nd March, 2016 ©David Hockney
Earl Simms, 29th February, 1st, 2nd March, 2016 ©David Hockney
Rufus Hale, 23rd, 24th, 25th November 2015 ©David Hockney.
Rufus Hale, 23rd, 24th, 25th November 2015 ©David Hockney.

Hockney considers all 82 portraits and the still life to make up a single body of work. The series, according to the artist, is about how “we’re all individuals. That’s what it tells us. That we’re different on the outside, we’re different on the inside.”

David Hockney RA: 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life
2 July — 2 October 2016

David Hockney’s 82 Portraits and 1 Still Life opens at LACMA April 14th 2018 and runs through July 29th, 2018.

Thinking of coming to Los Angeles to some great art at LACMA? Our fave AIRBNB is only 2 blocks from the museum!

exhibit information and images courtesy of The Guardian, Artnet and the Royal Academy.