The Artist’s Mother

The large number of portraits Hockney made of his mother attests to the close bond between them. A devout Methodist and strict vegetarian, Laura Hockney (1900−1999) raised her four children with great generosity of spirit. Supportive of her son David’s desire to be an artist, she remained a loyal and patient model who would always sit still for him.

Although Hockney is critical of photography— “A photograph cannot really have layers of time in it the way a painting can, which is why drawn and painted portraits are much more interesting,” he once said—the large portrait that dominates this section was made from photographs. In 1982, Hockney began creating collages with Polaroid prints, which he worked into grids. He eventually went on to create more complex images with irregular edges using 35 mm photographs, such as this portrait of his mother. The influence of Picasso and Cubism is evident in these works, in which he captures simultaneous viewpoints and a narrative that reflects the passage of time. Hockney compared the photocollage pro- cess to a kind of drawing: “I felt these pictures were linear, and that in piecing them together, picture by picture, I was really drawing line, linking them.”