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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > February 2017 > The joy of looking

The joy of looking

Whatever style he pursues, David Hockney creates abundant and inquisitive art, argues Emma Crichton-Miller

We think we know David Hockney. He is one of the most recognisable and bestloved artists in the world—whether in his early incarnation as the boy from Bradford with bleached hair and round glasses who painted boys in swimming pools, or in his latter years as the trainer-wearing celebrant of East Yorkshire’s rolling landscape. His photo collage Pearblossom Hwy, 11-18th April 1986, #2 is the most popular image at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. His 1967 painting A Bigger Splash—with its meticulously realised explosion of white water in a scene of rectilinear calm—is regularly in the top 10 most popular British paintings. In 2011, British art students voted Hockney the most influential artist of all time.

On the one hand, Hockney seems reassuringly conservative in his focus on still life, landscape and portraiture. On the other, his bright-hued optimism and excited embrace of technology, from fax machines to the iPhone and iPad, have endeared him to new audiences. As two recent exhibitions at the Royal Academy—Yorkshire landscapes in 2012 and portraits in 2016—have proven, crowds flock to his abundant, inquisitive and joyful art.

In Hockney’s 80th year, however, Tate Britain is hoping to present a more comprehensive and nuanced account of his achievement in a new retrospective exhibition that runs from 9th February to 29th May.

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In Prospect’s February issue: Tom Clark and Luke Harding examine the attacks facing democracy. Clark reviews two books on democracy and suggests a new intellectual assault may be on the horizon. Harding looks at Russia’s attempts to derail the democratic process by focussing on its technical frailty. Melissa Deckman asks why women voted for Trump, while Duncan Bell charts the story of the Anglosphere and suggests Brexiteers are indulging in an old fantasy. Also in this issue: Matthew Harries asks if it’s time to ban the nuclear bomb, Adam Mars-Jones looks at the way we perceive aliens in films and Elizabeth Pisani explores the role of activists in changing the perception of Aids and its pushing for treatment.