For the creation of each portrait, the artist asked the sitter – who range from family members to friends and acquaintances, staff, fellow artists, curators, and gallerists – for a commitment of three days. Each of them is presented sitting in the same yellow upholstered chair against a similar vivid blue backdrop. Vibrant and full of life, this exhibition provides an intimate view of the Los Angeles art world and the people who have crossed his path over the last years.
These paintings, which were executed between 2013 and 2016 in the artist’s Hollywood Hills studio, are arranged chronologically. Among the portraits are those of John Baldessari, Stephanie Barron, Douglas Baxter, Celia Birtwell, Dagny Corcoran, Edith Devaney, Larry Gagosian, Frank Gehry, Peter Goulds, Ayn Grinstein, Barry Humphries, Rita Pynoos, Joan Agajanian Quinn, Sir Norman Rosenthal, Jacob Rothschild, and Benedikt Taschen.
Hockney’s work has been the focus of numerous LACMA exhibitions. Michael Govan, the museum’s CEO, confirms proudly: “In 1988, LACMA initiated Hockney’s first large retrospective and now, thirty years later, it is so meaningful to present a new body of work featuring David’s personal circle.” Stephanie Barron, the museum’s Senior Curator of Modern Art and who organized the exhibition, was one of the portrayed sitters. She says: “He observed me closely, worked confidently, quickly, and silently, and managed within the first two hours to capture my pose, clothing, and spirit. Hockney’s mastery of portraiture comes through in this remarkably intimate series in which each subject sat in the same chair, in front of the same curtain. Looking at them together we see how marvelously Hockney has captured the individual personalities of his varied subjects.”