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David Hockney RA: 82 Portraits and 1 Still Life - RA

David Hockney. Barry Humphries (c) David Hockney. Photo credit: Richard Schmidt.

Exhibition preview

IN JULY 2016, the Royal Academy of Arts will present an intimate exhibition of recent portraits by the Royal Academician David Hockney, revisiting the genre that has played such a major part across his long career.

Vibrant, observant and full of life, these 82 portraits and 1 still life, which Hockney considers as one body of work, have all been executed over the last two and a half years in the artist’s Los Angeles studio.

David Hockney RA: 82 Portraits and 1 Still Life will offer an insight into the artist’s life in Los Angeles, his connections to the art world and the people who have crossed his path over the last few years.

Hockney’s subjects – all of whom have been invited by the artist to sit for him – include friends, family, acquaintances and staff. John Baldessari, Celia Birtwell, Dagny Corcoran, Larry Gagosian, Frank Gehry, Barry Humphries, David Juda and Lord Rothschild are all represented as well as Hockney’s siblings, John and Margaret.

Each portrait has been created within the specific time frame of three days, which Hockney describes as ‘a 20 hour exposure’. The portraits are painted on the same size canvas (121.9 × 91.4 cm) with each of the subjects seated in the same chair against a neutral background.

The portraits provide a remarkable insight into the personality of the sitters, in addition to exploring Hockney’s own development working in the medium of acrylic. The works will be hung chronologically within the Sackler Galleries to emphasise this development.

Hockney has set himself a considerable challenge to complete this large body of work. His deep interest in portraiture and its changing role in the history of art are evident as he challenges our perceptions of the value of portraiture in the 21st century.

Born in Bradford in 1937, David Hockney attended Bradford School of Art before studying at the Royal College of Art from 1957 to 1962. Hockney’s reputation was established early, with his work featuring in the Young Contemporaries exhibition in London, 1960; an exhibition seen as marking the arrival of British Pop Art. He first visited Los Angeles in 1964, settling there in 1979 where he has since produced a large body of work over many decades.

In 2012, David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture, was held in the main galleries of the Royal Academy. Showcasing vivid landscapes of the Yorkshire countryside, this vast show attracted over 600,000 visitors, making it one of the most successful exhibitions in the RA’s history. The exhibition subsequently travelled to the Guggenheim Bilbao and the Museum Ludwig, Cologne.

David Hockney was elected a Royal Academician in 1991 and appointed member of the Order of Merit in 2012.

Exhibition tickets for David Hockney RA: 82 Portraits and 1 Still Life must be pre-booked.

David Hockney RA: 82 Portraits and 1 Still Life has been organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London. The exhibition is curated by Edith Devaney, Curator of Contemporary Projects at the Royal Academy of Arts, in close collaboration with the artist.

The exhibition is accompanied by a lavishly illustrated book, David Hockney: 82 Portraits and 1 Still Life, published by the Royal Academy of Arts in June 2016.

The book features incisive text exploring Hockney’s work in portraiture by Tim Barringer, Paul Mellon Professor of the History of Art at Yale University, and Edith Devaney, Curator of Contemporary Projects at the Royal Academy of Arts, interviews the artist. Photographs revealing intermediate stages of several paintings, from first to last mark, will give the reader a unique insight into Hockney’s working method. Price: £30 hardback, 32 × 24 cm, 176 pages, 150 in colour.

David Hockney RA: 82 Portraits and 1 Still Life Gallery

Image: Barry Humphries, 26th, 27th, 28th March 2015. Acrylic on canvas, 121.9 × 91.4 cm © David Hockney. Photo credit: Richard Schmidt.

Dates: Saturday, July 2 to Sunday, October 2, 2016.

Admission: £11.50 full price (£10 without Gift Aid donation); concessions available; children under 16 and Friends of the RA go free. Tickets must be pre-booked and are available online at or by phone on 020 7300 8090.

Times: 10am – 6pm daily (last admission 5.30pm). Late night opening: Fridays until 10pm (last admission 9.30pm).