Go Do This Now


David Hockney:  82 Portraits and 1 Still-life

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, through 29 July

While I walked through this show with delight, I couldn’t stop thinking about one of my favorite musical recordings: pianist Vladimir Horowitz playing a concert in Moscow, well into his 80s.  The music is profoundly powerful and simple at the same time, and that’s true with this exhibition at LACMA.  Like Horowitz, Hockney shows that in his maturity, he can strip away affectation, ambition and—seemingly—effort, and still produce work that is joyous and moving.  The format of the show is extraordinarily constricted:  every picture is the same size, and—with one exception—is in the same orientation.  Every picture—with two exceptions—is of one sitter in the same chair with a background of just a couple of colors.  This is a show that will delight and make you think.  The sitters are significant characters in Hockney’s life, and the quiet specificity of their faces reveals the understanding that comes with years of truly seeing and knowing a person.  In these pictures, Hockney is still the mischievous, carefree rebel of his youth.  But he is also an old man comfortable with being almost eighty, enjoying the absolute mastery of his medium that his age brings. 

Bruce Norelius