David Hockney: Early reflections                   

11 October 2013 - 16 March 2014 

Free entry                                                                   

Painting of a man bending over in the shower

'Man in Shower in Beverly Hills', 1964 © David Hockney. Photo © Tate, London 2013

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David Hockney is considered to be one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. This exhibition brought together a unique selection of paintings and prints, which charted the early development of this iconic British artist. 

Featuring work from the Walker’s own collection, including Peter Getting out of Nick's Pool , which won the John Moores Painting Prize in 1967, together with key pieces from the Arts Council Collection and other loans, the exhibition explored Hockney’s early influences.

With almost 40 pieces on display, dating between 1960 to 1978, the exhibition was an insight into Hockney’s prodigious talent which was evident even as a student. 

Through recurring obsessions, such as the evolving references to his own homosexuality, depictions of the reflective qualities of water and his persistent return to portraiture, the exhibition revealed how his style, which flourished during the 1960s, had changed dramatically by the early 1970s.


  • In the Mood for Love - looked at some of the major early paintings that Hockney produced at the Royal College of Art (1959-62). 
  • Picturing Poetry - explored Hockney’s interest in poetry and looks at how he was inspired by the poems of one of his favourite writers, Constantine P Cavafy.
  • On Reflection - showed a selection of Hockney’s water-themed paintings. Those of swimming pools are among his most renowned. 
  • Familiar Faces - looked at Hockney's portraits, which include images of his friends.

David Hockney - about the artist 

Photo of David Hockney holding his prize-winning cheque 

David Hockney after winning the John Moores Painting Prize in 1967. Image: Mirrorpix.com 

Born in Bradford in 1937, David Hockney studied painting at the Royal College of Art in London from 1959 to 1962. His stellar reputation was established while he was still a student; his work was featured in several of the annual Young Contemporaries exhibitions, one of which heralded the birth of British Pop Art. He progressed quickly along this path to become one of the world’s best known British artists. 

He first came to America (New York) in 1961 but settled in Los Angeles soon after a visit in 1964. He is closely associated with southern California and has produced a large body of work there over many decades. 

Through the John Moores Painting Prize, the Walker Art Gallery was able to acquire one of Hockney’s most famous pictures, Peter getting out of Nick’s pool, when the artist won the prize in 1967 at the age of 30.

His experiences and the work he produced during the 1960s and ‘70s were instrumental in his success.

This exhibition highlights several themes within Hockney’s work: a growing confidence in expressing his homosexuality and in finding his own style, his skill as a draughtsman and printmaker, particularly seen in his responses to Constantine P Cavafy's poems; his obsession with capturing the properties of water; and lastly, portraiture, which has continued to play a central role in his output.

In recent years the artist has relocated to Bridlington, Yorkshire where his work has focused on documenting the rural landscape. The artist was elected a Royal Academician in 1991 and recently appointed a member of the Order of Merit by the Queen. 

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Exhibition funders and partners

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David Hockney: Early Reflections is part of National Museums Liverpool's Modern Masters exhibition series part funded by the European Union - the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).