Mr David Hockney, in the bedroom, with the iPad

Mr David Hockney, in the bedroom, with the iPad

You may recall a while ago we brought you the news that the art world was buzzing with rumours that the man considered by many to be the world’s greatest living artist was about to release a new body of work based around bedrooms.

It turns out that the Chinese whispers had gone slightly awry – David Hockney’s new collection (and associated book, of course) isn’t art about the bedroom; it’s art created in the bedroom.

It seems that Hockney, who left his Bridlington home a couple of years ago for the warmer climes of California, spent some of his time while still in East Yorkshire beating the chill by ‘painting’ in bed on his iPad.

Which makes perfect sense – if there’s one thing worse than breakfast crumbs in bed, it’s spilt paint. The iPad is not just very portable, it’s also very clean.

And, of course, the great man has form when it comes to the first mass-market tablet computer. An early artistic adopter, he told the Telegraph in 2010 (the year the iPad was first released) that ‘anyone who likes drawing and mark-making will like to explore new media’.

It was far from his first foray into new technologies. In the 1980s, he experimented with photocopiers and faxes, and, of course, created much-admired photo collages made up of dozens of Polaroid images, a technique created after a curator friend left behind some of the instant self-developing film at his Hollywood Hills home, and he began to experiment. By 2008, he was ‘painting’ on his iPhone.

But it’s the iPad that’s really grabbed him – in that same 2010 Telegraph article, he explained: “Until I saw my drawings replayed on the iPad, I’d never seen myself draw. Someone watching me would be concentrating on the exact moment, but I’d always be thinking a little bit ahead. That’s especially so in a drawing where you are limiting yourself, a line drawing for example. When you are doing them you are very tense, because you have to reduce everything to such simple terms.”

Only a year later, he shared that revelatory experience with audiences in his Fresh Flowers exhibition in Toronto – the pictures were actually displayed on wall-mounted iPads, which from time to time played back his recorded brushstrokes, allowing viewers to watch each creation from start to finish, an extraordinarily intimate insight into the artistic process. 

He’s quick to point out, though, that the iPad is just another tool in an arsenal of many; he’s been quoted as saying: “I just happen to be an artist who uses the iPad, I’m not an iPad artist. It’s just a medium.” 

One thing’s for sure – whether he’s working with conventional paint on canvas, photography, or newer technologies, at the grand age of 82 (rapidly coming up 83) Hockney admirably never rests on his laurels, and rarely misses a beat where quality is concerned – at the Artmarket, we’re all waiting with bated breath to see his new work. 

If you’d like to see David Hockney painting on his iPad (and, of course, smoking!), take a look here:

Image TASCHEN GmbH/ Mark Seelen
Back to blog