Harry Styles: portrait of David Hockney, legendary artist

Harry Styles: “candid” portrait of David Hockney, the legendary artist

This was his approach when, in May 2022, Mr. Harry Styles he went to his studio in Normandy and posed in a wicker chair, ready to be his new subject. For two days, hockey worked to accurately capture the red and yellow hues of the pop star’s striped cardigan, the indigo of her jeans, the strand of pearls around her neck, and her trademark tousled locks. His purpose, however, was to capture the essence of the person in front of him. “At the time, I didn’t quite realize how famous he was.“, he admits. “He was an ordinary person who came into the studio.”

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Mutual understanding was immediately established between them, which was probably facilitated by the fact that Stiles is a Hockney fan. For the cover American Vogue In December 2020, she wore Bode pants, which were hand-painted with the mascot portrait of Hockney by artist Aayushi Khwala. It’s also hard to imagine the wonder of a young, energetic Englishman discovering the sunny emotions of California – a theme that recurs frequently in his songs – without Hockney’s picturesque precedent. “He reinvented our way of looking at the world,” Stiles says. “Being portrayed by him is a real privilege.“.

The presentation of the portrait to the public will open the second chapter of the Hockney exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Drawing from life, which opened in February 2020 but closed a few weeks later due to the pandemic. Enriched with a new section that traces the artist’s creative impulses during lockdown, the exhibition returns on November 2 with a portrait of Stiles as the centerpiece. “The whole world was closed, and the exhibition was there, in the dark,” recalls La curated by Sarah Hogate. “It’s nice to know he’s going to have a different life.”

Styles’ painting may carry the glamor of the stars, but the main attraction of the event remains the quiet brilliance inherent in Hockney’s portraiture. What makes his work vibrate, as you will soon find out, belongs to them honestybe it the famous double portrait of Ossie Clarke and Celia Birtwell, painted between 1970 and 1971, which reflects the tension smoldering beneath the surface; or the seated figures that filled the 2016 exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, which included his sister Margaret and the late comedian Barry Humphreys. The way Hockney portrays the human figure can be playful, kaleidoscopic, sometimes whimsical, but always, above all, blunt.

Harry Styles will see his portrait next to the portraits of the writer Gregory Evans, the mayor of Dozule (the Norman city where the artist now lives), the Hockney printer, Maurice Payne, his gardener and even her pedicurist, or in her own words, “the dandy who cuts my toenails“.

One of his recent subjects was music producer Clive Davis, who first suggested that he invite Styles. “Clive told me about his new album,” Hockney recalls. “So I wrote to Harry asking if he would like to come into my studio and pose for a portrait. He immediately replied that he would be delighted. Since then, Hockney has worked instinctively. “I don’t choose subjects by their importance.“, He says. He then confesses, “But now I know that Harry is a celebrity: I’ve seen all of his music videos.”

Hockney’s focus is not on what people do, but on who they are. “He is not a traditional portrait painter,” Sarah Hoagate says of him. “He’s interested in portraying people and their relationships.” That is why today his gaze is focused on the circle of loved ones, but the fact that he is still ready to open up to a stranger from time to time indicates his constant curiosity. Stiles seems to realize how lucky he is. And adds: “I’m trying one trembling for a man with enough wit to last a lifetime.” What kind of jokes will they be? Stiles and Hockney’s silence on this suggests that what happens in the studio stays in the studio.

This article can also be found in the September issue of Vogue Italia.

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