There’s almost no end of books about David Hockney, up to and including the impressive and impressively-priced A Bigger Book. Hockney’s output over a long career is vast and any compilation can only be a selection at best. It’s largely a question of choosing the one that includes the most of what you like and has a quality of reproduction that will satisfy.
This, which was originally published to accompany an exhibition of the same title at the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia, is one of the best and most comprehensive for the period it covers, the last decade, which is described as “a profound turning point in [Hockney’s] exceptional sixty-year career”. As is usual, a few earlier works are included where they are necessary to provide perspective.
The quality of reproduction is first class and, with 2,036 illustrations, you’re not going to feel short-changed on that front. The curation is good too, with sections organised by theme: iPad works, Yosemite, The Arrival of Spring (selections from the 2012 RA show), the multipoint perspective works, the complete 82 Portraits & 1 Still Life and a full catalogue raisonné of the iPhone and iPad drawings. Each section is headed by an essay considering its topic in some depth and followed by a listing of the works included. I was fascinated to discover that the figure of Peter Schlesinger in Portrait of An Artist (pool with two figures) is based on an earlier photomontage (which is shown here).
There are drawbacks. The illustrations in the iPhone/Pad section are necessarily small and some of the detail is lost. Also, although the lists of works are keyed to page numbers, you need to do a considerable amount of jumping about in a heavy book to find titles. The reverse of that coin, of course, is that the plates themselves are uncluttered and without distractions.
Despite those very small reservations, this is an excellent book and is certainly one for my core library. I’d choose it, I think, over the catalogue for the 2017 Tate retrospective, in spite of the broader scope that has. At £45, it’s amazing value, too!
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