When you are alone and you look in a mirror you never put on a pleasing smile. Well, you don’t, do you?

David Hockney was way ahead of today’s ubiquitous selfies. In the 1980s—already famous for his painted landscapes of California pools and suburban houses—he threw himself into drawn, painted and photographed self-portraits…

At first the Hockney self-portraits showed vulnerability and self-consciousness, according to Dr. Brooks. But over the years, he adds, they showed intense self-examination. Mr. Hockney has depicted himself with his mouth wide open in surprise, with a scowl or with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth at an angle.

The results, as well as Mr. Hockney’s wider interest in photographic collage, are the main focus of “Happy Birthday, Mr. Hockney,” a celebration of his turning 80 at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, opening in two stages, June 27 and July 18. Most of the versions of Mr. Hockney on view, though, don’t make for a cheery celebration. “I usually only draw myself in down periods,” Mr. Hockney told London’s Telegraph newspaper in 2001. “I suppose that’s why I often draw myself looking grim. I just think, ‘Let’s have a look in the mirror.’ When you are alone and you look in a mirror you never put on a pleasing smile. Well, you don’t, do you?”

~ Alexandra Wolfe, from Self-Portraits and Photos for David Hockney Birthday (wsj.com, June 23, 2017)


  • Photograph top: David Hockney with ‘Blue Terrace Los Angeles March 8th 1982’.
  • Drawing: David Hockney ‘Self Portrait, 20 March 2012 (1219), iPad drawing printed on paper, mounted on Dibond.



  1. Pilgrim says:

    That’s it! A cigarette hanging reminds me of yours truly.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sometimes I do put on a pleasing smile when I’m alone, looking at myself in the mirror and I often have a pleasing smile when I visit your blog, David.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have startled myself passing by a mirror numerous times.

    Only when he’s down! Interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I usually just throw myself a kiss, ☺☺☺

    Liked by 4 people

  5. I say good morning and smile in the mirror. Then I look down at my feet and do the same. Gratitude for the body that is still around … and the mind that had the gumption to give up thise cigarettes 💛

    Liked by 4 people

  6. i give myself a glance and realize i am shy all over again. )

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I *try* to tell myself every morning… ‘You got this…’

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It was true previously but nowadays I look and say you have to live with it so smile. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you for sharing this. Going through Art College, I loved David Hockney’s photography. My painting professors always nagged me to look more and his drawings, but I was drawn to he’s collage photos. I had not seen the image shown above before; it is gorgeous. Thank again for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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