Providing a bird’s eye view of a road running through a landscape of ploughed fields, David Hockney’s print depicts an East Yorkshire landscape, an area that since 2005, has been a regular subject of his work. The elevated perspective of this view creates a disconcerting impression in which a vertical grey road resembles a waterfall plunging through the landscape. The trees lining the road signal it is winter, their bare branches minutely silhouetted against fields which change from vivid emerald to pale mint as the scene recedes.
In 2005, Hockney returned to live in East Yorkshire, having lived continuously in Hollywood since 1978. Famously known for his iconic paintings of Los Angeles swimming pools, celebrities and Californian landscapes from the 1960s to 1980s, he never lost touch with the industrial towns and countryside of his childhood. The deaths of his mother in 1999 and of his close friend, the art collector, Jonathan Silver around the same time, meant that increasingly, he found himself travelling between Los Angeles and Yorkshire. The visits reinvigorated Hockney’s awareness of the colour and forms of the English landscape; and back in Hollywood, he often found himself drawing and painting Yorkshire landscapes from memory.
Hockney’s recent work has focused on the very traditional subjects of landscape painting, one that is inherently associated with British art, following in the footsteps of Constable and Turner. Conversely, many regard his interest as a typically rebellious act. John Elderfield, Chief Curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York observed in 2009:
I think for many people this kind of representation is something which belongs in the past. But David doesn’t give a damn.
Hockney embraces new technology in his practice. Winter Road near Kilham is one of numerous inkjet prints that he produced on a computer, using Photoshop. As he commented:
The computer is a useful tool...These prints are made by drawing and collage, they exist either in the computer or on a piece of paper, they were made for printing, and so will be printed.
David Hockney is often described as ‘Britain’s most famous living artist’. Born in Bradford, he studied at the city’s school of art in the 1950s before attending the Royal College of Art in London (1959–62). There his fellow student, R. B. Kitaj, encouraged him to abandon abstraction, after which his work reflected the personal events of his own life, including a frank approach to his sexuality.
Hockney visited New York in 1961 and eventually moved to Los Angeles in 1963. His first solo exhibition took place that year; followed in 1970 by his first retrospective at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London. 1988 saw the opening of a major retrospective of his work in Los Angeles that toured to New York and London.
'A Bigger Picture', an exhibition featuring over 150 of Hockney’s landscapes was held at the Royal Academy in 2012. He produced many of his drawings on an iPad and printed on paper. In 2014, 'David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition' was shown at the De Young Museum in San Francisco. A major retrospective exhibition of his work opened at Tate Britain in 2017, before touring to Paris and New York.
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