the third hockney is the best


All art, perhaps, is at heart an attempt to answer the question, How do we see? In these two shows, Hockney has a range of answers, but the one constant is the search, the gaze. The third David Hockney, the serious one, the important one, has been asking this question for over fifty years now, and his answers are consistently interesting and surprising. The body of work he has accumulated through his restless use of a vast range of media, combined with his solid technique, has given us an artist of the very first rank. Both these exhibitions set out to celebrate Hockney, and they do so magnificently: the NPG’s retrospective of half a century of his portraiture shows a depth and a breadth that is hard to match in any artist working today. There are perhaps rather too many of the very recent portraits – more rigorous selection would have made viewing easier – but there is no slackening off in quality. Annely Juda’s show of the new landscapes indicates that, if anything, David Hockney is having yet another late flowering. In a long career, he has frequently seemed to have reached a peak, only to dart off at a tangent and, in another style, another medium, surpass himself. His most recent work shows a serene, soaring mastery.

more from the TLS here.