Interview

'How do you paint memorable pictures?'

Artist David Hockney reflects on making art for over 60 years

Transcription

How do you paint memorable pictures?

Nobody knows, really.

I mean, it’s a memorable picture, ‘The Bigger Splash’, but you don’t know you’re doing them because there’s no formula. If there was a formula there’d be a lot more memorable pictures. And there aren’t that many, most are forgettable, aren’t they?

The show now… I mean, I am nearly 80 so there’s 60 years of work. Some people saw my work as a bit ‘bitty’. But I think there’s a continuity to it.

An attitude to space and time.

Time is elastic and I play with that idea.

People look at them. Children look at them. Names don’t mean a thing to children. They’re just reacting to what’s there.

Well I know children like my art and I think that’s rather good, I think.

When you’re painting it’s now. I like to live in the now. That’s all there is: now. Isn’t it, actually?

I have the vanity of an artist. I want my work to be seen. But I don’t necessarily have to be seen.

When I see the exhibition I’ll probably be quite impressed, actually.

It’s a memorable picture, A Bigger Splash, but you don’t know you’re doing them because there’s no formula. If there was a formula there’d be a lot more memorable pictures.

David Hockney

David Hockney is one of the most popular and influential British artists of the twentieth century.

Ahead of his 2017 Tate Britain exhibition, the artist reflects on 60 years of making art.

'There's a continuity to it', the Hockney says of his work. '[There's] an attitude to space and time. Time is elastic and I play with that idea.'

David Hockney, ‘A Bigger Splash’ 1967
David Hockney
A Bigger Splash 1967
Tate
© David Hockney

Names don’t mean a thing to children. They’re just reacting to what’s there. I know children like my art and I think that’s rather good.

David Hockney

We Recommend

Look Closer

Understanding David Hockney's A Bigger Splash

Dive in for a closer look: explore Hockney's inspiration, techniques and have a go at some splash-inspired activities

David Hockney – 80 years in 8 works

We explore David Hockney's career in eight works
In the Gallery

A Queer Walk Through British Art

Discover queer responses to our collection at Tate Britain, curated by members of the LGBTQ+ community at Tate and beyond

TateShots

Twitter with David Hockney

David Hockney answers your questions

Find Out More