Cusset, Catherine. “Life of David Hockney: A Novel”, translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan, Other Press, 2019.
A Moving Portrait of the Artist
David Hockney was born in 1937 in a small town in the north of England and he had to fight to become an artist. He left his home in Bradford for the Royal College of Art in London where his career flourished, but he didn’t. He struggled with a sense of not belonging, because of his sexuality, which at that time was still a criminal activity. Additionally his inclination for a figurative style of art was not yet sufficiently “contemporary” to be valued. He began taking trips to New York and California–where he would live for many years. He was introduced to new scenes and new loves. It was in this country that he confronted the fraught years of the AIDS epidemic.
This book is a hybrid of novel and biography that gives us a look at Hockney and we see him as a painter who shook the world of art with a vitality and freedom that “neither heartbreak nor illness nor loss could corrode.” Cusset follows Hockney from birth and she does so with sympathy and understanding. She captures “Hockney’s work with a deep, captivating sense of empathy and understanding.” Hockney was a man striving for a life at odds with the world.
We cannot help but see how much Hockney loves what he does and he also happens to love swimming pools, beautiful boys, trees, and the English countryside.