David Hockney by Christopher Simon Sykes

70%

22 Critic Reviews

. . .the timing couldn't be better for this enjoyable and well-sourced book, which — like Hockney's own work — is both conversational and perceptive.
-LA Times

Synopsis

Drawing on exclusive and unprecedented access to David Hockney’s extensive archives, notebooks, and paintings, interviews with family, friends, and on Hockney himself, Christopher Simon Sykes provides a colorful and intimate portrait of one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century.

Born in 1937, David Hockney grew up in a northern English town during the days of postwar austerity. By the time he was ten years old he knew he wanted to be an artist, and after leaving school he went on to study at Bradford Art College and later at the Royal College of Art in London. Bursting onto the scene at the Young Contemporaries exhibition, Hockney was quickly heralded as the golden boy of postwar British art and a leading proponent of pop art. It was during the swinging 60s in London that he befriended many of the seminal cultural figures of the generation and throughout these years Hockney's career grew. Always absorbed in his work, he drew, painted and etched for long hours each day, but it was a scholarship that led him to California, where he painted his iconic series of swimming pools. Since then, the most prestigious galleries across the world have devoted countless shows to his extraordinary work.

In the seventies he expanded his range of projects, including set and costume design for operas and experiments with photography, lithography, and even photocopying. Most recently he has been at the forefront the art world's digital revolution, producing incredible sketches on his iPhone and iPad, and it is this progressive thinking which has highlighted his genius, vigor and versatility as an artist approaching his 75th birthday.

In this, the first volume of Hockney’s biography, detailing his life and work from 1937 - 1975, Sykes explores the fascinating world of the beloved and controversial artist whose career has spanned and epitomized the art movements of the last five decades.

"The timing couldn't be better for this enjoyable and well-sourced book, which — like Hockney's own work — is both conversational and perceptive." —Los Angeles Times

"To read Christopher Simon Sykes' David Hockney is to marvel at the artistic gifts of the eccentric Yorkshireman who rose from a sometimes pinched childhood to hobnob with poet Stephen Spender and novelist Christopher Isherwood, to party with Mick Jagger and Manolo Blahnik." —The Plain Dealer

"Prodigiously entertaining." —Financial Times

“A chatty, knowledgeable, insider's biography, full of anecdotes.” —The Guardian
 

 

About Christopher Simon Sykes

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CHRISTOPHER SIMON SYKES is a photographer and writer. He specializes in architectural and garden photography and writes on architecture and social history. Sykes worked with Eric Clapton on his autobiography, Clapton, and his work has appeared in publications such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, Town & Country, and Architectural Digest. He lives with his wife and daughter in North London.
 
Published April 17, 2012 by Nan A. Talese. 384 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Gay & Lesbian. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for David Hockney
All: 22 | Positive: 14 | Negative: 8

Kirkus

Good
on Feb 06 2012

...Hockney has never ceased questing. A personal, lively look at this extraordinary artist’s career. Readers will eagerly await the second volume.

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Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Blake Morrison on Nov 24 2011

. . .a chatty, knowledgeable, insider's biography, full of anecdotes. . .The drawback is that we end with the subject still in his 30s, with half his career still to come.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Deborah Solomon on Aug 17 2012

You come away from this biography surprised less by the larksome adventures than by his incorruptible work ethic.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on May 17 2012

. . .does little to situate his subject’s work within a historical context, and the reader occasionally longs for somewhat more scholarly insights. . .

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
Mar 05 2012

Sykes’s revealing text is complemented by sketches, drawings, and personal photographs.

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Financial Times

Below average
Reviewed by Jackie Wullschlager on Dec 02 2011

. . .ducking analysis of such major works in favour of banal narrative he squanders a signal opportunity.

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LA Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Christopher Knight on Apr 15 2012

. . .the timing couldn't be better for this enjoyable and well-sourced book, which — like Hockney's own work — is both conversational and perceptive.

Read Full Review of David Hockney | See more reviews from LA Times

Globe and Mail

Below average
Reviewed by Keith Garebian on May 04 2012

Hockney’s adventures abroad. . .are mainly a superficial sexual travelogue, and show us little of how they affected his art.

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The Telegraph

Below average
Reviewed by Alastair Smart on Dec 13 2011

Hockney’s story quite clearly is one of triumph against the odds, and the key problem with this book is that Sykes simply chooses to ignore it.

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The Independent

Excellent
Reviewed by Fiona Sturges on Nov 27 2011

Sykes is nothing if not fastidious in his research. . .

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The Daily Beast

Below average
Reviewed by Jimmy So on Apr 16 2012

One wishes for a bit more color in Syke’s narrative, but one look at a Hockney would give you the zest needed.

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Cleveland.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Jo Gibson on Apr 17 2012

Some readers may decide Sykes goes overboard with contextual details. . .But you'd be hardhearted not to warm to Hockney.

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Chicago Sun Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Ann Levin on Apr 19 2012

. . .Sykes writes well about the artwork itself and Hockney’s art influences. . .

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The Seattle Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Michael Upchurch on Jun 17 2012

Sykes' writing has a real raconteurial flair from the get-go.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Deborah Solomon on Aug 19 2012

It is unclear why the book was conceived as a two-volume affair, when one volume would have sufficed.

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Journal Sentinel

Excellent
Reviewed by Jim Higgins on Apr 14 2012

Here's hoping the biographer doesn't make us wait too long for the next installment.

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London Evening Standard

Excellent
Reviewed by Geordie Greig on Nov 24 2011

. . .certainly the most moving and amusing account of the most popular British artist of the 2Oth century.

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Lambda Literary

Excellent
Reviewed by Nels Highberg on May 05 2012

. . .offers rich research and details about how Hockney grew up without a lot of money but deeply steeped in culture.

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The Courier-Journal

Below average
Reviewed by Alfred Shands on Jun 01 2012

The chatty, gossipy approach sometimes feels a bit like People magazine.

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Biographile

Excellent
Reviewed by Judy Jacoby on Apr 24 2012

Beautifully illustrated with full-color and black-and-white photographs throughout, this remarkable book will delight art lovers everywhere.

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Pride Source

Excellent
Reviewed by Richard LaBonte on May 17 2012

. . .an engaging blend of chatty artist-as-a-young(ish)-man anecdotes and cogent analysis of several of his career-making paintings. . .

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Dossier Journal

Excellent
Reviewed by John Davidson on Apr 02 2012

. . .there is relatively little in the way of extended observation of Hockney’s art. What Sykes does, instead – and does very well – is provide a palpable sense of the man himself.

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