Hockney wants us to step inside his works with four-story immersive exhibit

Reflecting his “life-long fascination” with new media, the artist will project artworks across a new London venue Lightroom, while revealing his process to attendees.

17 November 2022


With Bigger & Closer (not smaller & further away), David Hockney will turn his works – both well-known, rarely seen and new pieces – into an immersive experience. It will be the first show to open Lightroom, a four-storey-high space in Kings Cross equipped with the latest digital projection and audio technology. Through numerous methods, the exhibition hopes to allow attendees “to see the world through [Hockney’s] eyes”.

As the rush to exhibit famous art works using VR and immersive tech continues, the exhibition will offer some of the same draw. For example, large scale projections and animation, alongside a commissioned score, will let users step amongst his works. But, it also hopes to invite users to take a journey into his process, via commentary from Hockney himself. The release explains that we will be able to watch his experiments with perspective, how he uses photography as a way of drawing with a camera, as well as how he captures time using polaroid and spring through an iPad.

Hockney’s process will be revealed in a cycle of six themed chapters, with a specially composed score by Nico Muhly. The release adds: “We join [Hockney] on his audio-visual Wagner Drive, roaring up into the San Gabriel Mountains, and into the opera house by means of animated re-creations of his stage designs.” Lightroom – a joint venture between 59 Productions and London Theatre Company – worked with Hockney for three years to bring the project to fruition.


Installation of David Hockney’s Gregory Swimming Los Angeles March 31st 1982. Composite polaroid, 27 3/4 x 51 1/4". (Copyright © David Hockney)

In the soundtrack of Bigger & Closer, Hockney demonstrates why immersive media is fitting for capturing his perspective. “The world is very very beautiful if you look at it,” the artist says, “but most people don’t look very much. They scan the ground in front of them so they can walk, they don’t really look at things incredibly well, with an intensity. I do.”

Nicholas Hytner, executive producer states: "What’s so exciting about this show is how authentically Hockney it is. Listening to his voice in this astonishing new space while seeing his artworks unfurl around the four walls is going to be both an experience and an education. It suggests how potent this medium will be for the other creators and artists with whom we will make new and original Lightroom shows in the years to come.”

Immersive experiences, allowing audiences to ‘step into’ an artwork, continue to prove a popular route of exhibiting. Recently, the immersive Van Gogh exhibit in London extended its dates until January 2023 “due to high demand”, while London’s Koko has worked with Acute Art on a 360º VR Hilma af Klint’s exhibition.

Bigger & Closer (not smaller & further away) will run from 25 January until 23 April 2023. Readers can find out more about the exhibition here.


Installation of David Hockney’s A Bigger Grand Canyon 1998. Oil on 60 canvases, 81 1/2 x 293" overall (Copyright © David Hockney) Collection National Gallery of Australia, Canberra


Mark Grimmer: David Hockney viewing the model box containing August 2021, Landscape with Shadows. Twelve iPad paintings comprising a single work (Copyright © David Hockney)


David Hockney: Bigger & Closer (not smaller & further away) (Copyright © David Hockney)

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Installation of David Hockney’s The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven). Oil on 32 canvases (36 x 48" each), 144 x 384" overall (Copyright © David Hockney) Collection Centre Pompidou, Paris. Musée national d’art moderne – Centre de création industrielle

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. In January 2023, they became associate editor, predominantly working on partnership projects and contributing long-form pieces to It’s Nice That. Contact them about potential partnerships or story leads.

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