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Tate Britain reveals why postmodern LA ex-pat Hockney is one of our greatest cultural exports.

In 2013 David Hockney must have surprised no one when he moved back to California. Although a Yorkshire artist, whose return to the haunts of his youth lasted some eight years, the painter will be forever associated with the leisured lifestyles of suburban LA.

But Hockney is not the only one whose imagination is fired by vividly blue swimming pools. Back in the UK, he is as popular as he is Pop. The iconic status of a Tate’s, A Bigger Splash, a monumental scene in which he freeze-framed a foamy burst of water above a serene modernist pool, suggests Hockney tapped into a certain American dream shared by Brits from Pimlico to Bradford.

Pimlico, or Tate Britain to be exact, is indeed the first venue for the world’s largest retrospective of works by Hockney. It’s a sign of his critical standing and international relevance that this exhibition has been organised together with the Centre Pompidou and MoMA. Organisers promise to reveal not only the range of his output, but his lifelong quest for an essence of art.

Hockney is not really an observational painter, as his unreal treatment of both sunbathed pools and autumnal dales has shown us, he is a picture maker who plays with paradox. A crisp, static splash is a paradox. A rural Yorkshire landscape on an iPad is a paradox. You might even say a northerner in LA is a paradox. So it’s no surprise that his work has been described as a ‘landmark’ of postmodernism. This show too is a landmark, also dues for one of our most important artists.

The exhibition is open until 10pm every Friday and Saturday. And until midnight on Friday 26, Saturday 27, and Sunday 28 May 2017. On the final day, Monday 29 May 2017, the exhibition is open until 9pm.

Last ticket sales and entry to the exhibition will be one hour before these closing times.

Tate Britain

Millbank, London, Greater London, SW1P 4RG

020 7887 8888


Opening times

Daily, 10am – 6pm (last admission 5.15pm) Closed 24 – 26 Dec

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