David Hockney was born in Bradford, Yorkshire and was educated at Wellington Primary School, Bradford Grammar School, Bradford College of Art (where his teachers included Frank Lisle and his fellow students included Derek Boshier, Pauline Boty, Norman Stevens, David Oxtoby and John Loker and the Royal College of Art in London, where he met R.B Kitaj. Whilst there, Hockney said he felt at home and took pride in his work.
At the Royal College of Art, Hockney featured in the exhibition Young Contemporaries – alongside Peter Blake – that announced the arrival of British Pop art. He was associated with the movement, but his early works display expressionist elements, similar to some works by Francis Bacon. When the RCA said it would not let him graduate if he did not complete an assignment of a life drawing of a female model in 1962, Hockney painted Life Painting for a Diploma in protest. He had refused to write an essay required for the final examination, saying he should be assessed solely on his artworks. Recognising his talent and growing reputation, the RCA changed its regulations and awarded the diploma. After leaving the RCA, he taught at Maidstone College of Art for a short time.
Hockney moved to Los Angeles in 1964, where he was inspired to make a series of paintings of swimming pools in the comparatively new acrylic medium using vibrant colours. The artist lived back and forth among Los Angeles, London, and Paris in the late 1960s to 1970s. In 1974 he began a decade-long personal relationship with Gregory Evans who moved with him to the US in 1976 and as of 2019 remains a business partner. In 1978 he rented a house in the Hollywood Hills, and later bought and expanded it to include his studio.
Hockney has experimented with painting, drawing, printmaking, watercolours, photography, and many other media including a fax machine, paper pulp, computer applications and iPad drawing programs. The subject matter of interest ranges from still lifes to landscapes, portraits of friends, his dogs, and stage designs for the Royal Court Theatre, Glyndebourne, and the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.
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