The Enchantress With the Baby Rapunzel

This etching is from Hockney’s Grimm’s Fairytale series. The Enchantress sits like an Italian Renaissance Madonna with the baby Rapunzel on her lap, in front of a landscape reminiscent of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Annunciation. Hockney’s unfailing instinct for placement and his restrained simplicity makes the composition beautifully harmonious, and focusses us on the evil intent on the face of the Enchantress, with her hooked nose, pointed chin and lank hair that hint at traditional images of witches.


David Hockney

David Hockney OM CH RA (born 1937) is a British painter, draughtsman, printmaker, stage designer and photographer. At the age of 81, he is one of the most notable and well respected names in international art; indeed the art historian, Robert Hughes, said that “no English artist has ever been as popular in his own time, with as many people, in as many places, as David Hockney”. Born in Bradford, Hockney attended the Bradford College of Art, and later the Royal College of Art in London, where he studied under both Francis Bacon and Peter Blake. He moved to Los Angeles in 1964, having been enthralled by the bright sunshine and easygoing lifestyle when he visited Southern California for the first time, the previous year. There, he became an important contributor to the pop art movement.

Hockney is best known for his colourful windows into an idealised version of his equally colourful LA lifestyle; putting his personal relationships, home environment and his homosexuality centre-stage in works such as his serial paintings of swimming pools, portraits of friends, and verdant landscapes. The artist’s oeuvre ranges from collaged photography and opera posters, to Cubist-inspired abstractions and plein-air paintings of the English countryside. Often returning to a certain motif again and again, he probes the manifold ways one can see an image or a space. Hockney’s exploration of photography’s effect on painting and everyday life is evinced in his hallmark work ‘A Bigger Splash’ (1967).

His work has been featured in more than 400 solo exhibitions and over 500 group exhibitions. He had his first one-man show at Kasmin Limited when he was just 26, in 1963, and by 1970 the Whitechapel Gallery in London had organised the first of several major retrospectives, which subsequently travelled to three major European institutions.

In October 2006, the National Portrait Gallery in London organised one of the largest ever displays of Hockney’s portraiture work. Hockney assisted in displaying the works and the exhibition, which ran until January 2007, was one of the gallery’s most successful. In 2009, “David Hockney: Just Nature” attracted some 100,000 visitors at the Kunsthalle Würth in Schwäbisch Hall, Germany.

In 2017 David Hockney was presented at the Tate Britain. The exhibition marked Hockney’s 80th year and traveled to the Centre Georges Pompidou and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The wildly popular retrospective landed among the top ten ticketed exhibitions in London and Paris for 2017 with over 4,000 visitors per day at the Tate and over 5,000 visitors per day at the Pompidou.

Hockney’s work is housed in major public collections all over the world, including those of the Tate and the National Portrait Gallery in London; the Metropolitan Museum of Art and MoMA in New York; and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. Most recently, his monumental stained glass window to celebrate the Queen’s reign was unveiled in Westminster Abbey.