Past Events

A Bigger Picture: New Approaches to David Hockney

Call for Papers

  • 8 December 2016 to 13 January 2017
  • Deadline 9:00 am
  • Conference date: 4 and 5 May 2017
  • Clore Auditorium, Tate Britain

Convened by Tate Britain, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and the History of Art Department at the University of Kent.

On 9 February 2017 a major retrospective of the work of David Hockney opens at Tate Britain. The exhibition will offer an unprecedented overview of the artist’s work to date. Presented chronologically, through a range of media, it will trace his development from the moment of his prodigious appearance on the public stage in 1961, through his iconic works of the 1960s and 1970s, to the resurgence of painting in the 1980s, and on to his recent return to California after ten years in Yorkshire. The exhibition highlights the ways in which Hockney has questioned the nature of pictures and picture-making and challenged their conventions.

Organised in conjunction with the exhibition, this conference seeks to generate and uncover new research and scholarship on David Hockney. Hockney is arguably one of the most well-known and recognised figures in the histories of post-1960 British art, yet his status within these histories is often ambiguous. His popularity has undoubtedly presented a challege for art historians and art writers. Frequently characterised as a somewhat “unique” cultural figure, the work of critically assessing Hockey’s career and artworks alongside his contemporaries is a project that is only just beginning. An artist who has frequently changed his style and ways of working, embracing new technologies as he goes, Hockney has continuously experimented with different techniques across painting, drawing, print, photography, film and digital media to find new ways of seeing the world and of presenting that back to us.

This conference aims to build on and enrich our present understanding of the artist’s works and contexts. The hope is that the conference will address the breadth of his career across the six decades. What have been his art historical, literary or intellectual templates, and how has his work engaged with other kinds of contemporary artistic practice? How might we position Hockney in relation to wider critical discourses and cultural frameworks? An iconic figure in his own right, how has his persona been positioned in modern culture and what is the depth of his influence in art, design and a broader visual culture? We invite submissions on any aspect of Hockney’s art and its contexts, but we especially encourage submissions that look beyond the ‘classic’ period of the 1960s, that consider the range of the media in which Hockney has worked, and that place his practice within broader art-historical debates.

How to submit

To propose a paper, please email an abstract of 300 words or less and a 50-word biography in a single Word document to Ella Fleming at efleming@paul-mellon-centre.ac.uk by 9.00am on 13 January 2017.

Papers should be 20minutes in length. Speakers will be notified of the outcome of the conference committee’s decisions by Friday 20 January 2017.

A contribution towards travel costs will be made available to speakers, and Tate can provide letters of support for selected speakers to seek further support towards participation.

Image credit:
David Hockney, Hollywood Hills House, 1981-82, Oil, charcoal and collage on canvas, 60 x 120" Walker Art Center, Minneapolis © David Hockney