David Hockney interview: 'I always made things a bit harder for myself'

David Hockney: 'I live in the now'
David Hockney: 'I live in the now' Credit: Ben Quinton
David Hockney is marking his 80th birthday with a huge Tate show – and then it’s back to work, he tells Gaby Wood

When I arrive at David Hockney’s studio in the Hollywood Hills one winter morning, the artist is still asleep. “Do you have time to leave him for 20 minutes?” asks his assistant Jean-Pierre, before offering to show me around.

Several orderly trays of acrylic paint are laid out alongside colours in labelled jars: Naples yellow, dioxazine purple, ultramarine, teal, titanium white. There are brushes everywhere, bearing the palest traces of use – some of them so large they occupy an umbrella stand by the door.

On the walls, a few works in progress: Hockney’s planned stained glass window for Westminster Abbey; a sketch of his terrace, 7B pencil resting on the easel beneath it; a wide, thin canvas, framed with black gaffer tape to accentuate its edges, and marked, so far, with just...


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