The Art Institute of Chicago has announced David Hockney: The Coming of Spring, Normandy, 2020, an exhibition of new works by one of England’s most versatile and inventive post-war artists. In this latest project, Hockney has rendered the season’s richness of the bucolic setting of rural Normandy on his iPad. Organized in collaboration with the Royal Academy of Arts in London, David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020 is presented at the Art Institute of Chicago from August 20, 2022 to January 9, 2023 and explores Hockney’s innovative approach to of “painting” through 116 works, including two animated videos.
Two years ago, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, David Hockney traveled to France with the express intention of capturing the emergence of spring. Working outdoors (outdoors), he spent his days peering into and recording the subtle, daily changes in plants and light as spring emerged and settled in with all its drama and glory. The outdoors approach was particularly suited to his business because of Normandy’s associations with the origin of French Impressionism.
Hockney turned away from the Impressionist tradition by engaging in his long-standing embrace of contemporary technology – he used fax machines, laser photocopiers, Photoshop and other 20th and 21st century digital instruments throughout his six-decade career. David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020 was produced entirely on an iPad. The artist first explored this format in 2010 after working on an iPhone for a year before. One app was tailored to her needs with custom brushes and shapes, “I feel like I’m painting,” Hockney remarked. His works on iPad have all the qualities of his paintings on canvas, with his gesture and his hand in full view.
Robyn Farrell, Associate Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art, comments: “David Hockney: The Coming of Spring, Normandy, 2020 simultaneously celebrates and traces the temporal and textural transformation of the natural world. This body of work is unique in that it offers the visual splendours of the French countryside through studied observation and technological execution. As the only American venue for the exhibition, we are delighted to share this vision particularity of the world, during a historical period, of one of the most important British artists of the 20th century.”
This series of works coincided with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, when much of the world entered a state of lockdown. Hockney’s exploration provides a contrast to the isolation and loss that many experienced during this same period. His paintings are a celebration of the joy of the natural world, reminding us, as he himself does in one of his oft-repeated phrases, to “love life”.