Over fifteen years ago my dad and I would meet in the same supermarket every Saturday. He was there to buy groceries and I was working in the dairy department, meaning for years I ate ice cream for lunch. One thing was a given, every week my dad came home with a Donald Duck magazine, which my brother and I collected. Towards the end of my twenties and during my studies at the Royal Academy of Art in the Netherlands, I started collecting books for grown-ups.
Currently I own over 60 books on or by David Hockney, and having seen most of his work at exhibitions and galleries all over the world, I can say he’s been a huge influence on me. Just as Donald Duck taught me to buy flowers for my girlfriend when I mess up, Hockney has taught me many ways to look and think about art and painting. You don’t want to sit next to me at a dinner party and ask me about David Hockney. I simply won’t shut up.
David Hockney by David Hockney, David Hockney
This is the first Hockney book I bought and it has travelled with me on so many trips that the pages have collected sand from many different beaches. The title is as fun, smart and witty as his writings, and David truly reveals himself here. I’ve read the thing from cover to cover in one go, and over and over again since. I was close to cutting out his pictures, glueing them in my agenda and drawing hearts on them. He kind of made me regret skipping so many lessons at art school and neglecting the library most of the time. It’s an excellent introduction to his life and work, reading about his California adventures and time in Paris.
The Blue Guitar, David Hockney
Being in a relationship with me means sharing my love with my work, my dog and David Hockney. My last girlfriend understood this well, and took me on a surprise trip to Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Gallery Forty-Nine in Bridlington. The latter had loads of Hockney’s prints and paintings, and unfortunately for my bank account, many Hockney books. That’s where I bought this one containing twenty etchings inspired by Wallace Stevens’ poems and all drawn by Hockney. My favourite is Serenade, which was also used on a affiche created for a show at the Victoria & Albert Museum in 1985.
Hockney Paints the Stage, Martin Friedman
Every time I visit New York, Strand books is one of the first places I go. I’m not sure how but it was only on my third visit that I discovered the special and limited edition books section on the third floor, which is only accessible by elevator. After that, a bit ashamed about having bought too many books, I remember telling my girlfriend at the time that I had just bought one book. The cashier was kind enough to secretly ship six or seven home for me. Among the secret books was Hockney Paints the Stage. It’s full of images and pictures showing Hockney’s costumes and set designs, and it’s all about his approach to making work for the stage.
That’s The Way I See It, David Hockney
Another Hockney book I love and highly recommend is That’s The Way I See It. As smart, witty and opinionated as David Hockney by David Hockney, it gives another excellent look into his life and work, while teaching you a thing or two about art and the art world. I never read many art books, I mostly looked online at blogs and considered this sufficient, but I remember feeling a bit smarter after reading this book and I understood every single bit. Later I’d come to realise it was just written in a very accessible, and well-articulated way, but it’s an art school must-read if you ask me as it is all about the way he sees, and ultimately makes you see too.
A Drawing Retrospective, David Hockney
This book is very much about the act of drawing. It’s an exciting collection of pencil and pastel drawings that really made me appreciate the practice a lot. I remember looking at the faces in this book a few days before visiting my granny. When I saw her I just stared at the greens and blues in her skin. She must have thought I was either high or falling in love with her. The selected works have fun titles too, which makes sense as I think it was Hockney who once said, “a title ads another colour.”