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Art Critic Martin Gayford’s new book Spring Cannot be Cancelled is an uplifting manifesto that affirms art’s capacity to divert and inspire. It is based on a wealth of new conversations and correspondence between the artist David Hockney and Martin Gayford, who are long-time friends and collaborators. Their exchanges are illustrated by a selection of Hockney’s new Normandy drawings and paintings, many previously unpublished, alongside works by van Gogh, Monet, Bruegel, and others. In this talk Martin will describe how the book and the forthcoming exhibition at the Royal Academy came to be.
‘I intend to carry on with my work, which I now see as very important. We have lost touch with nature rather foolishly as we are a part of it, not outside it.’ – David Hockney
On turning eighty, Hockney sought out rustic tranquillity for the first time: a place to watch the sunset and the change of the seasons; a place to live a life of simple pleasures, undisturbed and undistracted; a place to keep the madness of the world at bay. So when Covid-19 and lockdown struck, it made little difference to life at La Grande Cour, the centuries-old Normandy farmhouse where Hockney set up a studio a year before, in time to paint the arrival of spring. In fact, he relished the enforced isolation as an opportunity for even greater devotion to his art.
Image: Page 112, David Hockney, “No. 180”, 11th April 2020, iPad painting, © David Hockney
Image: Spring Cannot Be Cancelled: David Hockney in Normandy by Martin Gayford, Thames&Hudson, front cover, 2021.
We see how Hockney is propelled ever forward by his infectious enthusiasms and sense of wonder. A lifelong contrarian, he has been in the public eye for sixty years yet remains entirely unconcerned by the view of critics or even history. He is utterly absorbed by his four acres of northern France and by the themes that have fascinated him for decades: light, colour, space, perception, water, trees. He has much to teach us, not only about how to see… but about how to live.
£10 Friends, £15 non-Friends, £5 students, booking required
David Hockney is perhaps the most critically acclaimed artist of our age. He has produced work in almost every medium and has stretched the boundaries of all of them. His bestselling Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the lost techniques of the Old Masters is also published by Thames & Hudson, as are his previous books in partnership with Martin Gayford: A Bigger Message and A History of Pictures.
Martin Gayford is art critic for The Spectator. His books include Modernists & Mavericks, Man with a Blue Scarf, A Bigger Message, Rendez-vous with Art (with Philippe de Montebello), A History of Pictures (with David Hockney), The Pursuit of Art, and most recently Shaping the World: Sculpture from Pre-History to Now, co-authored with Antony Gormley, all published by Thames & Hudson.
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Image: Page 18, David Hockney and Martin Gayford in the studio, 2018. Photo: David Dawson.