David Hockney’s Tokyo Exhibition 1st in Japan in 27 Years

© David Hockney, Photo: Richard Schmidt
The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven), 2011, Centre Pompidou, Paris. Musée national d’art moderne-Centre de création industrielle

An exhibition of paintings by David Hockney, a giant of contemporary art, is currently being held at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo in Koto Ward, Tokyo.

This is the first major solo exhibition in Japan in 27 years for Hockney, who is 86. The show features about 120 works, including his most famous paintings as well as new works, which represent his diverse artistic activities for more than 60 years. The largest work on display measures 90 meters wide. The exhibition runs through Nov. 5 and is a great opportunity for everyone to feel and absorb Hockney’s artistic world.

Hockney continues to be a leading figure on the global art scene. A Hockney exhibition in Paris in 2017 attracted more than 600,000 visitors, and one of his paintings fetched $90.3 million, a record for an actively working artist, in 2018.

The Tokyo exhibition introduces a variety of his works and bids to uncover the secret of his popularity as well as his unchanged vision.

Using iPad, photocopiers

© David Hockney
A Year in Normandie (detail), 2020-21, Collection of the artist

The most exciting piece on show is the 90-meter-wide tour de force, “A Year in Normandie.” Hockney spent the lockdown period during the COVID-19 pandemic in Normandy, France, and painted the surrounding nature using an iPad. The ultrawide painting covers all the walls of one of the exhibition rooms, evoking the sensation of strolling in a rich, natural environment.

Looking at the works showcased at the exhibition, one can see the wide variety of motifs he has handled. When Hockney lived in Los Angeles, he painted urban life in bright colors, taking up such subjects as a swimming pool, a lawn sprinkler and a shower. But he has also depicted nature, such as a forest, in Normandy and his home country of Britain.

Through oils, watercolors, acrylics and photographic collages, he has taken up various kinds of artistic methods. To create a new artistic space, he has also flexibly adopted new tools and uses a photocopier and a fax machine for some pieces. He has also used computers and an iPad to create artworks.

Nevertheless, Hockney has never taken part in a trend or art movement. He has consistently focused on how to express the world in front of his eyes.

“Since he paints what he sees with his own eyes in his everyday life, people who look at his paintings can appreciate them as if they are experiencing the scenes themselves. Such works of art possess inspirational power so that even people unfamiliar with fine art would think, ‘I want to see them,’” said Ai Kusumoto, the curator of the exhibition.

© David Hockney
A Lawn Sprinkler, 1967, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
© David Hockney, Photo: Richard Schmidt
Walking in the Zen Garden at the Ryoanji Temple, Kyoto, Feb. 1983, 1983, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo

Exhibition details

Open through Nov. 5

Venue: The Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (in Kiba Park, Koto Ward)

Opening hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (until 9 p.m. on Aug. 11, 18, 25). Admission until 30 minutes before the closing time

Closed: Mondays (except Sept. 18, Oct. 9) and Sept. 19, Oct. 10

Admission fees: ¥2,300 for adults; ¥1,600 for university and college students, and people 65 or older; ¥1,000 for junior high and high school students; admission is free for elementary school students and preschoolers.

Inquiries: (050) 5541-8600

Exhibition website:https://www.mot-art-museum.jp/en/exhibitions/hockney/ 

Organizers: The Yomiuri Shimbun, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo

Special sponsor: CANON INC.

Sponsors: Dai Nippon Printing (DNP), Sompo Holdings, Inc.

© David Hockney, Photo: Jean-Pierre Gonçalves de Lima
David Hockney in Normandy, April 1st 2021


David Hockney was born in 1937 in Britain. After studying at the Royal College of Art in London, he moved to Los Angeles. Currently, he is based in Normandy, France, and still energetically produces new works.

He was awarded the Praemium Imperiale prize in 1989. In 1996, his exhibition was held at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo.