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David Hockney: The Biography, 1937-1975by Christopher Simon Sykes
Synopses & Reviews
Drawing on exclusive and unprecedented access to David Hockney’s extensive archives, notebooks, and paintings, interviews with family, friends, and on Hockney himself, Christopher Simon Sykes provides a colorful and intimate portrait of one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century.
Born in 1937, David Hockney grew up in a northern English town during the days of postwar austerity. By the time he was ten years old he knew he wanted to be an artist, and after leaving school he went on to study at Bradford Art College and later at the Royal College of Art in London. Bursting onto the scene at the Young Contemporaries exhibition, Hockney was quickly heralded as the golden boy of postwar British art and a leading proponent of pop art. It was during the swinging 60s in London that he befriended many of the seminal cultural figures of the generation and throughout these years Hockney's career grew. Always absorbed in his work, he drew, painted and etched for long hours each day, but it was a scholarship that led him to California, where he painted his iconic series of swimming pools. Since then, the most prestigious galleries across the world have devoted countless shows to his extraordinary work.
In the seventies he expanded his range of projects, including set and costume design for operas and experiments with photography, lithography, and even photocopying. Most recently he has been at the forefront the art world's digital revolution, producing incredible sketches on his iPhone and iPad, and it is this progressive thinking which has highlighted his genius, vigor and versatility as an artist approaching his 75th birthday.
In this, the first volume of Hockney’s biography, detailing his life and work from 1937 - 1975, Sykes explores the fascinating world of the beloved and controversial artist whose career has spanned and epitomized the art movements of the last five decades.
"The timing couldn't be better for this enjoyable and well-sourced book, which — like Hockney's own work — is both conversational and perceptive." —Los Angeles Times
"To read Christopher Simon Sykes' David Hockney is to marvel at the artistic gifts of the eccentric Yorkshireman who rose from a sometimes pinched childhood to hobnob with poet Stephen Spender and novelist Christopher Isherwood, to party with Mick Jagger and Manolo Blahnik." —The Plain Dealer
"Prodigiously entertaining." —Financial Times
“A chatty, knowledgeable, insider's biography, full of anecdotes.” —The Guardian
"Writer and photographer Sykes's love for the work of David Hockney, one of the most celebrated contemporary artists, is evident in this energetic, absorbing, if only mildly critical, first volume of an authorized biography. Drawing on extensive interviews with the artist, his mother's diaries, and interviews with Hockney's associates, Sykes skillfully integrates Hockney's private history with his public, artistic life to provide unusual insight into both his emotional and professional life. Spanning the period from Hockney's birth in 1937 through his collaboration with director John Cox on a new stage interpretation of Hogarth's A Rake's Progress, Sykes organizes his narrative into detailed but swiftly paced chapters, beginning with Hockney's youth in Yorkshire, England, where observing the simple, practical painting of his father restoring prams and bicycles first inspired the boy to become an artist. Young Hockney was a bit eccentric, the class clown, a developing homosexual, and an underachiever in every subject save for art, which he pursued persistently and prolifically, eventually at London's Royal College of Art. Most interesting is Hockney's early and continued support for gay rights and the importance of travel abroad for his artistic inspiration and personal development. Sykes's revealing text is complemented by sketches, drawings, and personal photographs. Agent: Ed Victor, Ed Victor Literary Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The first authorized biography of one of the past century's greatest and most influential artists.
Born in 1937, David Hockney grew up in a northern English town during the days of postwar austerity. Despite universally hard times, the seed of Hockney's imagination found fertile ground, at first being drawn to his father wielding a paintbrush while refurbishing bicycles and prams and then further spurred by outings to the theater and the movies. While good at most subjects in school, Hockney quickly gravitated to art as the only topic he really cared for and soon enrolled in a local art college before moving on to the Royal College of Art. Bursting onto the scene at the Young Contemporaries exhibition, Hockney was quickly heralded as the golden boy of postwar British art and a leading proponent of Pop art.
From that point there was no turning back. The sixties proved an incredibly productive decade for Hockney as he traveled from London to New York to Los Angeles, where he painted his iconic series of swimming pools. In the seventies he expanded his range of projects, including set and costume design for operas and experiments with photography, lithography, and even photocopying. Woven throughout is the story of Hockney's relationship with Peter Schlesinger and the turbulent emergence of gay rights.
Christopher Simon Sykes has unprecedented access to Hockney, who has given his full consent to the book and sat for many interviews with the author. This will be the first of a two-volume work, the second volume of which will cover Hockney's life following his father's death in February of 1978 through today.
About the Author
CHRISTOPHER SIMON SYKES is a photographer and writer. He specializes in architectural and garden photography and writes on architecture and social history. Sykes worked with Eric Clapton on his autobiography, Clapton, and his work has appeared in publications such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, Town & Country, and Architectural Digest. He lives with his wife and daughter in North London.
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