a rake’s progress


With the deaths last year of Lucian Freud and Richard Hamilton, David Hockney suddenly catapulted into position as England’s leading painter. Although the cultivated image of a dandified English schoolboy in white pants, mismatched socks, polka-dot bow tie and beanie is long out of date for an artist who, at 74, is identified with iconic 1960s paintings of Los Angeles swimming pools, the thought is a bit of a shock. Still, the timing couldn’t be better for this enjoyable and well-sourced book, which — like Hockney’s own work — is both conversational and perceptive. The artist’s paintings serve as chapter headings in the first, fluent volume of Christopher Simon Sykes’ planned two-part biography. The list, roughly but not rigidly chronological, is not a gimmick.

more from Christopher Knight at the LA Times here.