David Hockney A Celebration

September 4, 2023
David Hockney A Celebration Review

Creating a portrait of the artist as told through his own words and those who have been closest to the artist throughout his career, “David Hockney: A Celebration” is an intimate glimpse into one of the U.K’s most beloved personalities. As the title suggests, the documentary career and journey of “Britain's most successful living artist”. The documentary is set to two long-friends who discuss the life of Hockney, important moments and relationships as well as works that have come to define the artist.

Taking place of a series of interviews conducted over several months between his London and Normandy studio, the program shows archival footage of Hockney as talking-heads from studio assistant JP to Celia Birtwell (Hockney’s muse at one point featuring in a variety of works).

One thing that is apparent with Hockney is the joy he takes in both his craft and life itself. Clad in typically Hockney fetching fashion, cigarette in hand with yellow rimmed glasses, we see a man at ease with his life and accomplishments. 

From his early life growing up in Yorkshire we see a young man who was driven to create. His early childhood, son of a pram maker and housewife, saw Hockney inspired to draw by the world that surrounded him - a theme that has been constant in his life. A sense of stoicism and self belief prevail within the artist and the film is punctuated by examples of such a character. Responding to being reported for being gay while a student at the Royal Academy in the early 1960s (before homosexuality was decriminalised in Britain), Hockney dryly states, was “so what?”

We see the rapid rise and innovativeness of Hockney, his sun-drenched LA years (he remarks on how he decided to become the artist to paint LA) and his successful return to where it all started: Yorkshire. The personal side of the documentary is well-founded although for collectors of David Hockney signed prints, they may feel wanting in their desire to get further insights into the artist. 

Where conversation really flows are when the artistic styles and processes behind Hopckney’s works are mentioned. Here we see lovingly described anecdotes by the artist as Bragg wryly and playfully seeks to understand how such a unique character with such appreciation for colour and life has created some of the most important artworks of the 20th century. Of particular note is the story of Hockney starting into the Grand Canyon for days before painting it, remarking on the difficulties of painting an object that is essentially a “big hole” with no horizon and something that is looked down into. Equally so how Hockney talks of getting to know the trees in his Normandy studio. 

The interviews, whilst less penetrating than others out there, are a wonderful panorama of a career that has spanned over six decades. With excellent first hand insights and the wonderful rapport between subject and observer, we are treated to a film that is exactly what it sets out to be: a celebration.

Phil Edgar-Jones, Director of Sky Arts, Sky, said: “It’s a rare privilege to have access to an artist who has remained at the height of his powers well into his 80s. This definitive series on David Hockney, brilliantly authored and illuminated by Melvyn Bragg, promises to be an eye-opening treat for art lovers as we uncover the process of a true legend.”

Melvyn Bragg said: “David Hockney is one of the most remarkable artists this country has ever had. In his mid-eighties he’s still working flat out, and he’s had over 400 exhibitions. This celebration brings the essence of that together in what we hope will be a defining programme about David’s work and his ideas about art."

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.

About the author

Alex Yellop