Why the David Hockney documentary is the best film I’ve seen this year

26 November 2014

This week It’s Nice That director Will Hudson talks about why he reckons the new Randall Wright-directed documentary Hockney is so brilliant. You can let us know your thoughts in the comment thread below.

Last night I went to see the new David Hockney documentary, Hockney, followed by a Q&A beamed live from his studio in LA to cinemas across the UK. I was so inspired that I’ve not shut up about it since and was left in total awe of the man. So much so I’ve come out of retirement and felt the need to write something here for the first time in a long time.

The documentary tells the life story of Hockney and what struck me most was the way in which he’s documented his life and work on film. The opportunity to see that for the first time as his personal archives were thrown open was incredible. He was so ahead of his time – this was, of course, way before the smartphones we all document our lives with now without a second thought.

A lot of the footage features the man himself – so presumably he’s either asked someone else to film it or he’s set the camera up on a tripod somewhere. Pieced together perfectly by director Randall Wright (who is also behind the Lucien Freud film, A Painted Life) it made for a fascinating portrait of an artist I had taken for granted.

Naively my knowledge of Hockney was mainly based on 2012’s Royal Academy show A Bigger Picture and a handful of paintings – most prominently A Bigger Splash, which I very poorly copied for an A Level art project. What the documentary does, as all good documentaries should, is give a very honest and frank depiction of Hockney’s life form his own view and that of those around him. Coupled with the archive footage, it makes for quite a remarkable piece of film.

That footage includes Hockney’s early life in working-class Bradford, his time at the Royal College of Art, his move New York and then LA and the devastating effect AIDS had on his life and many of his friends. But most sharply we see his ongoing desire to keep making work, his passion for colour and his unique way of seeing things.

The live Q&A made the man more real – we seem him outside of the film as his true self:
a 77-year-old artist from Bradford in his LA studio surrounded by his work in a matching red shirt and tie, cigarette in hand, on an armchair talking about perspective and bohemia.

I urge you to seek this out, either at the cinema or when it airs on BBC2 next year. Hockney is without doubt one of the greatest living artists, and someone we should celebrate while he’s still making work.

Share Article

Further Info

About the Author

Will Hudson

Will founded It’s Nice That in 2007 and is now director of the company. Once one of the main contributors to the site, he has stepped back from writing as the business has expanded to become The HudsonBec Group.


It's Nice That Newsletters

Fancy a bit of It's Nice That in your inbox? Sign up to our newsletters and we'll keep you in the loop with everything good going on in the creative world.