david hockney harry styles: A Glimpse into a Unique New Painting


The Mastery Behind A Portrait

At 86, David Hockney possesses profound insights into the art of portrait-making. From his residence in France, he shares that the secret lies in beginning with the visage. “The head is my starting point,” he articulates, “and everything else falls into place thereafter.”

The Sitting: Styles in Hockney’s Studio

When Harry Styles visited Hockney’s sunlit studio in Normandy in the previous May, he seated himself expectantly. This was the inception of the David Hockney Harry Styles collaboration. Hockney painstakingly detailed the colors in Styles’s attire, from the distinct cardigan shades to the characteristic necklace of pearls, and notably, Styles’s signature wavy hair. However, for Hockney, it was less about capturing the superstar and more about encapsulating the individual. “I hadn’t quite registered his fame then,” admits Hockney. “To me, he was just another studio guest.”

The duo established an immediate connection, probably accentuated by Styles’s profound admiration for Hockney. Styles’s 2020 Vogue cover saw him don a unique Bode cord, bearing an emblematic depiction of Hockney designed by artist Aayushia Khowala. It’s challenging not to trace Styles’s vibrant solo musical journey and its Californian influences back to Hockney. Styles confesses, “Being painted by someone as transformative as David Hockney was truly an honor.”

A Revived Exhibition

The grand unveiling of the David Hockney Harry Styles portrait marks the re-launch of the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibition, “Drawing From Life.” Initially introduced in early 2020, it had a short-lived presence due to the global health crisis. Set to reopen on November 2, post the gallery’s refurbishment, this Styles portrait is its pièce de résistance. Sarah Howgate, overseeing the collection, reflects, “The exhibition had remained dormant in the darkness. It’s heartening to see it breathe again.”

While Styles’s portrait might shine the brightest, the unpretentious brilliance of Hockney’s work remains the focal attraction. His raw and authentic representation of his subjects, whether in his acclaimed 1970-71 double portrait or his 2016 showcase at the Royal Academy of Arts, stands out. Hockney’s perspective, though sometimes vibrant and whimsical, remains deeply sincere.

Portraits: A Broader Canvas

Styles’s painting will be showcased alongside portraits of writer Gregory Evans, Hockney’s associates, local town personalities, and even his chiropodist. Hockney’s chance to paint Styles was initiated by music magnate Clive Davis. Hockney recollects the effortless process of the David Hockney Harry Styles collaboration, “The invitation was extended, and he gracefully accepted.” He jests, “I’ve come to realize his stardom, having watched his music creations.”

Howgate observes, “Hockney’s focus is on the essence, not the fame. It’s about capturing souls, not statuses.” Styles echoes the sentiment, saying, “The genius of the man leaves me spellbound.”

The specifics of their studio time together in the David Hockney Harry Styles partnership? Both parties maintain a charming silence, hinting that some tales are best left within those four walls.