(closed at LACMA 9/4/06)
The huge David Hockney show, Portraits, has just closed at LACMA. It featured an exhaustive collection of his portraiture, spanning 50 years from his mom in the kitchen to the man who wrecked his lovers Jag. Just looking at his images, no matter their locale makes me think of rain. Wrapping up and rain, and I for one am glad it's over. It was exhausting trying to take it all in, in one bite. But one bite was all we had, as we rolled up for the show the day before it closed. And we'd read the literature. Think how many more people were still staggering around avidly seeking out the Pearlblossom Highway, A Bigger Splash or A Bigger Grand Canyon as the ushers were trying to get them out of the door.
I understand that, there's a difference between TV and Movie stars.
There were still plenty of big ticket items on display, just not those big ticket items. The slight ones delighted me the most on the day. Andy Warhol in Paris, in that Andy Warhol tie (just ordered one myself from Brooks Brothers that very morning) and those Andy Warhol Levi's. Lovely.
The shows main preoccupation was David Hockney's Duos. He did them year's ago and returned to them recently. They are big. And if you are a people watcher of any description, they provide a lot to see.
The instructional video accompanying the show, played in the broom closet at LACMA, the most uncomfortable broom closet, will hopefully play on PBS eventually, showed Hockney in his studio - giving it all away, every fascinating detail of just how he does it. Giving Everything away but the paintings themselves. It's the most marvelous portrait. But then I love TV and I got to sit down for half an hour in front of one. He's a very droll man. Sounding like he's going to break into a cricket commentary at any moment with that beautifully soft Northern English undertow to his words.
In one of the funniest moments from the video, Hockney was moved to remark on Lucien Freud, after sitting for a portrait by Britain's octogenarian superstar of the brush. It took Freud four months. "I didn't know people still painted that slowly." Hockney quipped. Hockney paints each of his large scale 'duos' in one day.
Many of the recent duos, friends and associates often with a long Hickney history, turn up in the show and talk about how and why they sat the way they did and what they were thinking. Universally, probably, "this chair is hurting my back."
You could trust a northerner to plump for cheap models. What about a couple of Kate Moss's or Heidi Klum's?
Fans of one of our favorite painters, John Kilduff will be thrilled to note, that right there in the foreground, in a large panoramic photo of Hockney's Los Angeles studio was... His treadmill. I don't know whether Hockney can dish his realism out onto the canvas, as well as John Kilduff presents his truly surreal - painting and exercising and cooking while hosting a TV show all from his treadmill. Whether Hockney even paints from his treadmill remains the burning question posed by the Portraits show. But Hockney seems now to have so much work, he probably paints while brushing his teeth. Anyhow, Kilduff and Hockney in tandem would be something to see. Dear David - get down to Eagle Rock's cable access studio and let's make a deal!
I have to add, great LACMA a gift shop, if a bit stuffy. And they're kind of mean with their big show tickets, unlike say MOCA, where membership has its privileges, principally, aside from the gift shop discounts, members can come and go as they please for their hit shows, over at LACMA, membership gets you two tickets to the big show. Only. Hmmmm, what if there were Husbands, Wives and Lovers to entertain?
In the end, it was LA after all, the audience enchanted, the audience enthralled, Hockney, beloved then, beloved still and there never was no rain.