Blood and guts and pots, bits of string and painted trees


David Hockney is relaxing after lunch. The house feels full as his friend John, who made the meal, and assistant Jean-Pierre, an accordionist – true: I’ve seen the accordion – move around. “I remember seeing a Sargent in the Chicago Art Institute,” he says, “and thinking, fucking good, you know, great, and even the bravura slickness, I admire it. And then I went round the corner and there’s a Van Gogh portrait, and you just think, well, this is another level. A higher level, actually. I love the Sargent, but it’s not the level of Van Gogh.” The house is a brilliant succession of different coloured rooms, a kind of benign House of Usher. Like his London home, it transports you into a generous roving space. I have to admit this was not how I imagined it when I was on a dank train from Doncaster to Bridlington, looking over at a woman reading a book called The World’s Greatest Serial Killers. It was a dismal late-summer day as I headed north towards the Yorkshire seaside town where Hockney has been spending much of his time painting the local landscape.

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