disciplined down to his mismatched socks


Unlike Warhol, whom he befriended early on, Hockney openly explored the nature of gay love in his work and declined to hide behind a stockade of soup cans. Yet his assaults on convention always seemed free of provocation or menace. With his mop of bleached hair and large, goggle-like glasses, he has cultivated a personal style that might suit the host of a children’s television show. Now 75 and residing in his native Yorkshire, Hockney is still inclined to appear in public in mismatched socks, bright red ties and stripes that go in every direction. Well read, gregarious and intensely inquisitive, he has the sort of innate cheerfulness that is widely regarded as a professional liability if not a disqualification for a major career in art. His childhood, as portrayed by Sykes, was a spartan working-class affair overshadowed by war and shortages and his family’s eccentric politics. Sykes opens his book in August 1940, when 3-year-old David huddles with his parents beneath a staircase in their home as sirens blare and German bombs whistle through the night.

more from Deborah Solomon at the NY Times here.