David Hockney: The Biography, 1937–1975

Christopher Simon Sykes. Doubleday/Talese, $35 (352p) ISBN 978-0-385-53144-3
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Writer and photographer Sykes’s love for the work of David Hockney, one of the most celebrated contemporary artists, is evident in this energetic, absorbing, if only mildly critical, first volume of an authorized biography. Drawing on extensive interviews with the artist, his mother’s diaries, and interviews with Hockney’s associates, Sykes skillfully integrates Hockney’s private history with his public, artistic life to provide unusual insight into both his emotional and professional life. Spanning the period from Hockney’s birth in 1937 through his collaboration with director John Cox on a new stage interpretation of Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress, Sykes organizes his narrative into detailed but swiftly paced chapters, beginning with Hockney’s youth in Yorkshire, England, where observing the simple, practical painting of his father restoring prams and bicycles first inspired the boy to become an artist. Young Hockney was a bit eccentric, the class clown, a developing homosexual, and an underachiever in every subject save for art, which he pursued persistently and prolifically, eventually at London’s Royal College of Art. Most interesting is Hockney’s early and continued support for gay rights and the importance of travel abroad for his artistic inspiration and personal development. Sykes’s revealing text is complemented by sketches, drawings, and personal photographs. Agent: Ed Victor, Ed Victor Literary Agency. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/05/2012
Release date: 04/03/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
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