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How to Sound Like an Expert at the New David Hockney Exhibit

"Self Portrait with Red Braces" 2003 watercolor on paper by David Hockney (Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt)

The de Young Museum opened the doors to its newest exhibition David Hockney A Bigger Exhibition last week (and continuing through January 20, 2014), but before you and your friends go, here is a simple guide on how you can impress all your buddies and sound like a David Hockney expert.


Start off with the basic information about Hockney. He was born in 1937 in Bradford, Yorkshire which is located north of England. He studied at the Royal Academy of Art in London and then moved on to Los Angeles in the '60s. While there he would become a huge influence in pop art movement. Sure, it is information that your friends could read for themselves at the start of the exhibit, but you don't want to give all your intelligence away in one breath. Spread it out. Plus, you don't want to try too hard to look smart. You can also slip in how this exhibit was exclusive set up for the de Young and how it is the largest exhibition in the history of the de Young. That should get a few head nods. (Pictured above: "Self Portrait, 17 December")

Hockney has an abundance of work where nature is the subject — and they're all gorgeous. While walking through these you can sprinkle this quote by Hockney in your conversation: "We can't possibly be tired of nature, just our own approaches to it." Then comment on how his use of multiple canvasses to creat a grand scale work is remarkable. (Pictured above: ""Woldgate Woods, 30 March - 21 April")

There's a whole section dedicated to Hockney's "The Bigger Message," which is a 30-canvas re-working of Claude Lorrain's "The Sermon on the Mount." At the beginning of the exhibit, casually mention that this is one of your favorite works by him. Also mention that you're extra excited because the de Young is the first place to exhibit it. Knowing about the impressive exhibit before your friends will give you artistic hipster cred. (Pictured above: "A Bigger Message")

Hockney is very much a traditional painter, but he also takes advantage of artistic technology. This is yet another talking point you can make throughout the exhibit. Of the 398 pieces, 147 of the works are iPhone and iPad drawings. And make sure you point out how you "admire his willingness to embrace modern technology to create beautiful art, but without compromising his voice." That sounds smart, right? (Pictured above: "Yosemite I, October 16th 2011" iPad Drawing)


Here's a moment of the exhibit where you can really bring out your art snob.  When you reach massive "The Great Wall," you can tell your friends, "This is a collection of images of 700 years of art history that Hockney collected for his book Secret Knowledge in 2001. If you can please just give me a moment while soak this all in, it would be greatly appreciated." Then just pensively look at each and every picture as you walk up and down the 72-foot long, 8 foot high structure. P.S. this is another work by Hockney that has been put on public display for the first time.


One final bullet point is Hockney's mesmerizing collection of "Cubist movies." With as many as 18 separate digital cameras recording an action simultaneously, Hockney created several movies shot from different perspective — something he played around with a lot. Point out how you love these because it reminds you of his popular Polaroid collages from the '80s. Then add, "This is clearly a evolution." By then, your friends will be really impressed with you or they'll be annoyed with your banter. If it is the latter, just stay quiet and enjoy the amazing exhibition. (Pictured above: "The Jugglers," Eighteen digital videos synchronized and presented on eighteen 55-inch NEC screens to comprise a single artwork)

For more information on David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition, visit famsf.org.