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Painting of two people fencing, one man is dressed as a woman

A look at diverse forms of love and desire through works in the Royal Collection

David Hockney (b. 1937)

Self-Portrait, 6 April 2012 drawn 6 Apr 2012

RCIN 812508

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This self-portrait shows David Hockney, one of the best-known LGBT+ artists alive today. When Hockney began his career, male homosexuality was still criminalised in Britain and men were imprisoned for their sexual orientation. In 1964, Hockney moved to the more liberal California. Hockney’s work has always been openly gay. Hockney views his depictions of gay relationships as ‘good propaganda,’ and his work has consistently celebrated and represented gay life, often focusing on domestic, intimate moments.

Throughout the latter part of his career, Hockney has experimented with new technologies to produce graphic art. This self-portrait was created on an iPad, and shows Hockney calmly meeting the viewer’s gaze. The drawing captures the out-of-focus effect of a face seen from very close – only the white lines of the hair and lower edge of the spectacles are drawn sharply, the rest of his face is rendered in soft blurred lines. The portrait was created for the Order of Merit series in the Royal Collection, after Hockney was appointed to the Order in 2012.