Who is painter David Hockney, and why did he paint Harry Styles after saying he doesn’t paint ‘celebrities’?

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David Hockney once said in 2016 he doesn’t paint celebrities but paints his friends - is Harry Styles now friends with the artist?

A portrait of Harry Styles is indeed impressive in its own right; but when it is from celebrated British painter David Hockney, it becomes even more special. That’s because despite the stardom of Harry Styles, Hockney has been known to have a aversion to painting celebrities and instead, just paints his friends.

It helps though that some of his friends have become icons in their respective fields, almost as if the Bradford-born painter, whose works have been housed in the Tate Modern and his own art gallery, Hockney 1853 in Saltaire, West Yorkshire, is name-dropping while demonstrating his creative flair. There is, after all, a reason why he is considered one of the most influential British painters of the 20th century.

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Those friends include another influence of 20th-century art, Andy Warhol, who was painted in 1974, British textile designer and fashion icon Celia Birtwell (considered a muse to Hockney) and designer Ossie Clark - all three influential figures in their respective fields. It also helps that the Bradford College of Art and Royal College of Art in London trained Hockney who was considered a defining art figure in British culture during the 1960s.

Hockney gained recognition as a leading figure in the British Pop Art movement. His work often featured bright colours, bold shapes, and a playful and contemporary sensibility. He explored various mediums, including painting, drawing, printmaking, and photography. One of his most famous works from this period is the series of paintings titled "A Bigger Splash," which depicts a swimming pool with a dramatic splash of water.

Throughout his career, Hockney has been known for his portraiture, capturing the essence and personality of his subjects with a unique artistic flair. He painted many of his friends, family members, and prominent figures in the art and entertainment worlds - and Harry Styles just happens to be the latest. But perhaps Hockney didn't realise that Styles was a celebrity.

Why did David Hockney paint Harry Styles?

According to British Vogue, it might not be the case that David Hockney isn’t aware of Harry Styles celebrity at all but more considered him an apt choice to paint as part of his 30 new life portraits being displayed from November.

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“I wasn’t really aware of his celebrity then,” Hockney told the publication. “He was just another person who came to the studio.”

Styles was certainly aware of the importance of Hockney, telling British Vogue while at the artist’s studio in Normandy “David Hockney has been reinventing the way we look at the world for decades. It was a complete privilege to be painted by him.”

When can I see the portrait of Harry Styles?

The painting is one of more than 30 new portraits that will be displayed for the first time when David Hockney: Drawing from Life opens on 2 November at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

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