David Hockney Moves To France
The influential contemporary painter, David Hockney, will be parting from his home in Los Angeles to continue his work in a small town in the Normandy region of France called Calvados.
It is freedom that has convinced David Hockney, to leave Los Angeles, the city that inspired his famous paintings of pools during the 1960s. The city, once known for its unique character, big surfs, and beach culture has changed into a temple for health-conscious millennials. Along with the inflation of vegan restaurants, oat milk lattes, and upper-class gym memberships, the city has established extreme anti-tobacco laws.
LA anti-tobacco laws are among the strictest in the U.S.: all public spaces are non-smoking, including restaurant terraces, parking lots, outdoor bars, beaches, and government buildings. Hockney’s decision to leave LA and move to France was mostly motivated by his ability to eat and smoke freely. As he told the Wall Street Journal, “‘I would just like to work and paint’ […] and to be able to smoke and eat in a restaurant at the same time […] ‘The French know how to live, they know about pleasure.’ »
His decision to move can also be traced back to his desire to simply be left alone. While Los Angeles has its benefits, he is constantly disturbed by visitors. In Calvados, a town of merely 200 people, he is able to cut himself off from others and get to work. His Normandy routine goes as follows: he watches the sunrise, works all morning, goes out for a four-course meal at a local cafe, takes a nap, and then works again into the evening. In his new home, Hockney says he “can do twice as much work there, three times as much.”
Hockney’s new home, named La Grande Cour, or “the big yard,” dates back to 1650. The yard is filled with cherry, pear and apple trees. The fresh fruits, elderflower patches, and hawthorn pickets are what have inspired his newest work. Earlier this month, Hockney showcased a panorama along with 4 other drawings depicting the coming of Spring as seen from his new home in Normandy, during the inauguration of Pace Gallery’s new location in Chelsea, NYC. It took him 21 days to complete the 24-panel panorama which depicts his new home in detail.
In the multipanel panorama drawing of Normandy, Hockney left out any shadows in the landscape, pulling the scene out of time and space. The pieces from Normandy are really all about time, Hockney’s main fixation at this point in time. As he told the Wall Street Journal, “‘I’ve probably not much time left,’ […] ‘and because I don’t, I value it even more.’” The Normandy drawings will remain a part of his personal collection, but we can expect to see more from Hockney in the future.
Now at the age of 82, Hockney has no plans to retire. He stills claims that “All I’m interested in is working, really. I’m going to go on working. Artists don’t retire.” And despite his recognition, he couldn’t care less about fame. Hockney told the Wall Street Journal that he has “… ’the vanity of an artist,’ […] I want my work to be seen. But I don’t have to be seen.” Hockney has found a space to practice making his art in peace here in France. He will go on smoking his cigarettes and continue creating art for us all to enjoy.
Visual: © CC BY 2.0