Entertainment & Arts

David Hockney rebuffs 'greatest living artist' title

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Media captionDavid Hockney spoke to the BBC's Will Gompertz about the new exhibition

David Hockney has rebuffed claims that he is Britain's greatest living artist, calling the description "newspaper stuff".

"It doesn't bother me, it doesn't mean too much to me, actually," said the 74-year-old, one of the best-known figures of the 1960s British pop art movement.

"I live in a remote place, I intend to stay in it, I'm not very social - I'm too deaf to be social."

The artist opens a major exhibition at London's Royal Academy on 21 January.

It features a series of paintings inspired by the East Yorkshire landscape, which he made after returning to the area from California in 2005.

"This show is my excitement at a period in my life when I'd gone to a place I thought was familiar and found it refreshing and very stimulating.

"If you're my age and you find something that's exciting you stick with it."

Many of the works are large-scale - some as big as a double decker bus - and they include watercolours, oil paintings, iPad art and video installations.

Hockney told the BBC he felt that landscapes had fallen out of favour in recent years.

Image caption One room in the Royal Academy exhibition is spring-themed

Artists have "given up drawing," he said, because "they think the photograph does it all".

But he said he would continue to draw because "I am depicting the world, or the way you see it.

"I've often said, photography doesn't do it that well," he added.

Speaking to the BBC's Arts Editor Will Gompertz, he also bemoaned the dominance of film in modern art.

"There are things you can't film," he noted.

"The camera loves movement - smoke, fire, water.

"The consequence is you'll see more pictures of Rome burning and flooding than Rome being built because the camera likes it."

Embracing technology

Hockney said the Royal Academy had approached him about staging a major exhibition in 2007, with the suggestion it should launch in 2011.

"And I thought about it and I said, 'no, 2012', because I will need four springs - and you can't speed them up.

"So I was calculating how many I wanted to observe."

One large room in the exhibition is spring-themed, with all the pieces created specifically for the space.

Image caption Hockney said he loved "the quiet of East Yorkshire"

The artist added that hearing loss had contributed to his decision to paint landscapes, noting he "likes the city less and less".

"It's not that you're not hearing anything at all, you are hearing sounds but they're jumbled and you don't really like it.

"LA isn't too bad, New York's difficult, London I find difficult - so I love the quiet of East Yorkshire."

On using technology to create art, he said: "I used to think watercolour was quite fast, faster say than oil so you could capture fleeting effects.

"I now find the iPad is faster than anything."

Hockney creates new pictures on his tablet computer every day - sending some to galleries, and others to friends. He said the device allowed him to condense "four or five hours' work into 30 seconds".

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