When Harry Met David

Hockney Paints Styles
August 31, 2023
Image of national portrait gallery

How does David Hockney begin his famous portraits? “I begin with the head first. From there, I place everything else.” And so it was in May 2022 when Harry Styles travelled to Hockney’s home in Normandy, France as the latest subject for what seems like an eternal quest for portraits. Over the course of two days Hockney worked on the portrait of the former One Direction singer capturing him in a  red and yellow striped cardigan, indigo jeans and a fetching string of pearls around his neck. 

On the meeting, Hockney remarked “I wasn’t really aware of his celebrity then,” Hockney says, with a shrug. “He was just another person who came to the studio.”

Styles told Vogue Magazine, “David Hockney has been reinventing the way we look at the world for decades. IIt was a complete privilege to be painted by him.”

The unveiling of the portrait announced the return of Hockney’s exhibition “Drawing From Life” which will take place at the National Portrait Gallery, London. The exhibition, in its second guise, has added a second room of works that Hockney undertook during Lockdown. Opening on the 2nd of November, the exhibition explores the artist’s work over the last six decades through his intimate portraits of five sitters: his mother, Celia Birtwell, Gregory Evans, Maurice Payne and the artist himself. His familiarity with the sitters enables him to work with a range of mediums and styles, from pencil, pen and ink and crayon, to photographic collage and the iPad. The 2023 exhibition will also debut a selection of over thirty new portraits. Painted from life they depict friends and visitors to the artist’s Normandy studio between 2021 and 2022.

Styles’s portrait will hang alongside those of writer Gregory Evans, Hockney’s printer Maurice Payne, the mayor of his local town Dozulé, his gardener and even his chiropodist, or in Hockney’s words, “the dandy who cuts my toenails” 

Hockney became aware of Harry Styles through one of his other subjects, music producer Clive Davis, who put the idea of inviting Harry to pass by his studio. Recalling the suggestion, Hockney remarked “Clive told me about Harry’s new album, and JP [Hockney’s studio assistant] sent Harry a note and asked him if he’d like to come to my studio and sit for his portrait,” Hockney remembers. “He replied straight away and said, yes, he’d love to.” 

On Hockney the gallery’s senior curator of contemporary collections Sarah Howgate says,  “He’s not interested in fame. He’s interested in depicting people and their relationships.” 

Now in his 86th year, David Hockney has been one of the most successful artists of all time. Indeed, his innate understanding of colour and composition has seen his works command some of the highest prices at auction. For more information on our original David Hockney prints for sale, contact Andipa Editions via sales@andipa.com or call +44 (0)20 7589 2371. For more content on David Hockney, read our article on the most expensive David Hockney artworks.

About the author

Alex Yellop