David Hockney’s Art of Doing the Bare Minimum


A horrible joke

What's it like to be David Hockney? "Britain's greatest living artist," some might insist. But also the artist whose famed sunny, watery California paintings of the 1960s and 70s now cheerily fetch a hundred million dollars at auction. It's easy to take these dementedly inflated prices for granted – but what would it feel like? 'I think, if this sort of thing happened to me, then it would cause me to seriously question the foundations of the world,' writes Tom Whyman. 'Nothing I ever did again would feel like it mattered.'

Perhaps that 'disillusionment with external reality' is the lens through which to read Hockney's late style – heaps of obviously tossed-off corporate iPad drawings that now include a new logo for Piccadilly Circus underground station. But could this rejection of moralism about work actually be brilliant? 'In a world where everyone is expected to maintain a very positive affective orientation to their jobs, where to be employable means to be able to pretend that all the niggling bullshit your superiors are likely to subject you to is in fact a crucial element of your 'passion', Hockney's open and apparently uncaring rejection of this principle does what perhaps all great art ought to...'

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