When the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe, life came to a standstill as closures effectively shut down the world. That included the National Portrait Gallery's David Hockney exhibit, which had only been open for 20 days. Now, the London Museum is restaging David Hockney: Drawing from Life, and expanding it to include 33 recent portraits.
Among the new entries is a delightful portrait of Harry Styles, which Hockney painted in spring 2022. The portrait shows the pop singer sitting in a wicker chair with his legs crossed. Wearing a bright striped cardigan and a string of pearls, Styles' famous coif makes the singer instantly recognizable.
While the British painter, who rose to fame during the Pop Art movement of the 1960s, wasn't aware of Styles' celebrity when he sat for the portrait, that has since changed. “Now I know Harry’s a celebrity, though: I’ve seen all his music videos,” he told British Vogue.
For his part, Styles was thrilled to be immortalized by the iconic painter. “David Hockney has been reinventing the way we look at the world for decades,” Styles said. “It was a complete privilege to be painted by him.”
This recent portrait is just one of the nearly 160 works that will go on display when the show opens on November 2. Tracing his long and fruitful career, the exhibit features portraits rendered in mediums like acrylic, colored pencil, and film, as well as digital portraits.
Styles' portrait sits alongside images of Hockney's family, as well as other eclectic figures in his life. This includes his partner Jean-Pierre Gonçalves de Lima, the mayor of his local town, and his neighbors in Normandy. But the through line of the show are the portraits of five recurring figures: Hockney's mother, his friend Celia Birtwell, his former partner and curator Gregory Evans, his master printer Maurice Payne, and the artist himself.
With a special room dedicated to the work Hockney produced during the pandemic, David Hockney: Drawing from Life is once again ready to open its door. “The whole world shut down, and the exhibition was still sitting there, in the dark,” shares Sarah Howgate, senior curator of contemporary collections at the museum. “So it’s nice to know it will have another life.”
David Hockney: Drawing from Life will run from November 2, 2023 to January 21, 2024 at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Tickets can be purchased online.