A David Hockey The immersive experience will open in London with the launch of a new four-story-tall space that aims to be “visually striking, alive with sound and rich with new perspectives”.
One of the world’s most acclaimed and popular living artists, Hockney has collaborated for three years with the team behind the new venue, Lightroom, which opens at King’s Cross in January. He is the latest artist to have his work given the immersive treatment, as installation art, which uses virtual and augmented reality, continues to grow in popularity in the UK.
The show, David Hockney: Bigger & Closer (Not Smaller & Further Away), will allow audiences to journey through Hockney’s iconic work, rarely seen pieces and newly created material. According to a press release, the artist’s “lifelong fascination with the possibilities of new media is vibrantly expressed in a show that invites visitors to see the world through his eyes.”
The show will be made up of six thematic chapters, with a specially composed score by American composer Nico Muhly, and commentary by Hockney himself. Visitors will hear his voice as they watch the artist experiment with perspective, use photography as a way to “draw with a camera,” capture the passage of time in his Polaroid collages, and use paint to evoke the vastness of the Grand Canyon.
It reflects a recent trend for venues and galleries to merge the physical world with the digital experience. From an exhibition by French artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster at the Serpentine Gallery to a series of immersive Van Gogh experiences, more such shows are in the works.
Recently, Frameless in Marble Arch, featuring Britain’s largest immersive art experience, ‘where art breaks free’, took this concept even further: the entire art show contained no real art at all. Instead, it offered 90 minutes of Instagram-friendly experiences in a 30,000-square-foot space.
“The world is very, very beautiful if you look at it, but most people don’t look at it very much,” Hockney says on the show’s soundtrack. “They scan the ground in front of them so they can walk, they don’t actually look at things incredibly well, intensely. I make.”
Taking place from January 25 to April 23, Bigger & Closer will be the first in a lineup of original Lightroom shows performed with leading artists and innovators.
Program Director Mark Grimmer of 59 Productions said: “We’ve worked with David to bring together large-scale projected imagery, animation, archival and one-on-one interviews and a commissioned score to create a new kind of show that owes so much to Hockney’s theater design in terms of his painting, drawing and photography.
“David has been exciting to work with over the past three years and we look forward to the show introducing his art to a whole new audience.”
Lightroom was designed by Haworth Tompkins as a sister space to the Bridge Theatre. Executive producer Nicholas Hytner (Art Director of Bridge and co-founder of Lightroom) said Hockney’s show suggested just how “powerful” the immersive medium would be for other creators and artists.
“What’s so exciting about this show is how authentically Hockney it is. Hearing his voice in this amazing new space while watching artwork unfold around all four walls will be both an experience and an education,” she said.
Hockney, 85, became the highest rated artist in 2018 when one of his paintings, Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), sold for $90.3 million (£81 million) at a New York auction. The firm’s work depicted a turquoise pool under bright blue California skies, much like another of his most famous paintings, A Bigger Splash.
Hockney also recently unveiled a series of digital drawings of flowers, 20 Flowers and Some Bigger Pictures, which are part of a major new exhibition. They are currently on display at the artist’s gallery in London, Annely Juda Fine Art, one of five galleries in five cities around the world, in an unprecedented collaboration.