David Hockney, Woldgate Woods, 26, 27 & 30 July 2006. Oil on canvas (6 panels). © 2013 David Hockney. Photograph by Richard Schmidt
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Throughout his career, in both paint and text, David Hockney has engaged deeply with the past. His return to landscape is the result of a lifetime of looking. The grand scale of Hockney’s Yorkshire landscapes recalls the illusionism of ancient Roman wall painting, while his sensitivity to color and light evokes the Venetian pastoral tradition of Giorgione and Titian and later developed by Claude Lorraine, Constable, and Turner. Hockney’s work—in oil, watercolor, and iPad illustrations—overwhelms the viewer by its magnitude and beauty, so much so that it is easy to forget that it is steeped in the long tradition of human relationship with nature.
As Constable stated in 1836: “There has never been an age, however rude or uncultivated, in which the love of landscape has not been in some way manifested. And how could it be otherwise? For man is the sole intellectual inhabitant of one vast natural landscape.” Let David Hockney be our guide to his places of delight built upon past traditions and advancing into the future.
Sunnie Evers is an independent scholar and art historian.