David Hockney, Celia Seated on an Office Chair, 1974. Courtesy of Leslie Sacks Gallery.

David Hockney: Portraits

When making a portrait, “it’s their mood and your mood together that creates whatever’s there,” David Hockney once said. An avid portraitist throughout his entire career, David Hockney has painted, drawn, or printed hundreds of portraits since the mid-1960s. Frequently drawn to the same subjects, Hockney often depicts himself or his relatives, friends, and employees—many of whom are famous artists, fashion designers, and dancers. In 2013, he dove into an intensive period of portraiture, producing 82 paintings over the course of three years, featuring titans of the art world like architect Frank Gehry and art dealer Larry Gagosian. Hockney depicted each of his subjects in the same setting—sitting on a yellow armchair against a blue or green background—in order to better highlight their unique qualities. Hockney’s portraits are also fitting bookends to his presence in the art market. His first painting ever sold was a portrait of his father from 1955. In November 2018, his Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) (1972), featuring his former lover Peter Schlesinger, turned him into the most expensive living artist, selling for $90.3 million with fees at Christie’s.

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