Thursday, May 9, 2019

Books: Life of David Hockney

Daring, vibrant, and always authentically himself, Hockney is captured in a compelling new hybrid of novel and biography in LIFE OF DAVID HOCKNEY. Through a host of sources, including her personal meeting with Hockney, autobiographies, biographies, interviews, essays, films and articles, Cusset vividly pieces together the puzzle of the revered artist’s life and the enthralling stories that drove the creation of legendary works like “Portrait of an Artist”, painted in a three-month frenzy following a brutal breakup, and “My Parents”. LIFE OF DAVID HOCKNEY sheds light on the unbreakable spirit at the core of this living legend, who as a homosexual artist in a world where long-standing barriers had yet to be broken down, famously upended the norms of the art world, all through heartbreak and personal tragedy suffered in the wake of the AIDS epidemic. Cusset offers a window into Hockney’s rollercoaster love life as he shuttles between London, New York, and California, carving out a home in all three locales, whose spirit penetrates and contours his art. Here, we see Cusset, “transforming all the documentary material into a narrative that…shed[s] light on his journey from the inside by focusing on the links between love, creation, life and death.”

Born in the small town of Bradford in the north of England in 1937, Hockney had to fight to become an artist. After leaving his home for the Royal College of Art in London, his career flourished, his work appearing in galleries and sold alongside his professor’s works while still a student, but he continued to struggle with a sense of not belonging because of his homosexuality, which had yet to be decriminalized, and his inclination for a figurative style of art not sufficiently “contemporary” to be valued. Trips to New York and California—where he would live for many years and paint his iconic swimming pools—introduced him to new scenes and new loves, beginning a journey that would take him through the fraught years of the AIDS epidemic.

Cusset, author of thirteen award-winning, best-selling literary novels translated into eighteen languages, and whose novel L'autre qu'on adorait was shortlisted for the Prix Goncourt in 2016, skillfully depicts a David Hockey driven by impulse to always do and create what resonates most viscerally. In her intimate and lively portrait, Cusset submerges the reader in Hockney’s life with clear and bright prose, offering a lens into an artist of unlimited and unfiltered potential, reflected and represented through his dynamic oeuvre, but also as a human being with a tireless work ethic, caring deeply for his family and friends, stumbling and vulnerable at times and defined also by the turns of adversity and loss. LIFE OF DAVID HOCKNEY offers an original look inside the life of a groundbreaking artist in form and style, a painter, draftsman and set designer whose art is as accessible as it is compelling, and whose passion to create is never deterred by heartbreak, illness or loss.

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