Book Review: David Hockney – A Life by Catherine Cusset

Sometimes you stumble across a book quite unexpectedly and you know it’s one you need to read . This exactly what happened when David Hockney: A Life by Catherine Cusset winked at me on book twitter. Huge thanks to Anna Zanetti at Midas PR for my gifted copy

Published on 12th November by Arcadia Books this is a novel charting the life of Hockney, celebrated English Artist, from his childhood in Bradford, through the Art college years in London, hedonistic times in LA and back to his roots on the East Coast of Yorkshire.

This novel details beautifully the artist’s continuing search for reality, originality and creativity. Each section of Hockney’s life is laid bare with insight and clarity, drawing the artists own personality and emerging sexuality in to the narrative. Captured vividly and with a sense of place and purpose is Hockney’s continual determination to be true to his sense of self, both in his artistic process and in the way he lived his life.

Here is a portrait of an artist, ever evolving, working across two continents, redefining his boundaries, skills and understanding of the artistic process. Always refusing to compromise and following his creative urges rather than those widely accepted norms or expectations. Hockney and his art never stagnate and often challenge.

This novel has a prose that is authentic, a delightful combination of fact and fiction. It charts the triumphs but also the tragedies of Hockey’s life and career and how these events have made him both the man and artist we celebrate today. At the core of his story are his relationships, with lovers, friends and his supportive parents. Throughout a rapidly changing age Hockney’s own sexuality provides both inspiration and heart ache.

Throughout the book Hockney’s work and life are intertwined and inseparable. Life informs art and art informs life, both pushing him forward and fuelling the next stage of creativity and brilliance. I defy anyone not to read this book without Google close at hand. References to and the names of Hockney’s work litter these pages and it adds immeasurably to the reading experience when you see these works before you. Every canvas, every sketch, adds something to this novel and indeed the story of Hockney’s life.

For any one who wants to understand and appreciate a giant of the British Art world and watch an artist evolve in every sense of the word David Hockney: A life, is an inspired place to start. It is an ambitious undertaking that achieves it’s aim of providing a unique and compelling portrait of a supremely talented artist.

Rachel x

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