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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 6, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 01
David Hockney awarded British Order of Merit
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David Hockney awarded British Order of Merit

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Gay artist David Hockney has been chosen as a member of the Order of Merit by Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen's Honors List was released on January 1.

Although Hockney lived in California for many years, and some of his signature paintings are of Los Angeles swimming pools, he was born in England and lives currently in Yorkshire.

The Order of Merit is awarded for achievement in the arts, learning, literature, science, and other areas of public service. The order, created by King Edward VII in 1902, is restricted to 24 members.

John Howard, former prime minister of Australia, was the only other Order of Merit recipient this year.

The Order of Merit does not come with a title but members are given a red and blue enamel badge, which reads 'For Merit' and are entitled to add the letters OM after their names.

Hockney was slated for a knighthood in the Queen's 1990 Honors List, but he declined.

In a 2003 interview with the Telegraph & Argus newspaper, he said he turned down the knighthood because he was living in the U.S. at the time, and 'did not think it was for me but I don't have strong feelings about the honors system.'

He added that prizes 'of any sort are a bit suspect.'

He 'does not care for a fuss,' he said at the time, and 'I don't value prizes of any sort. I value my friends.'

In September 2011, he told BBC Radio 4's Front Row that he had turned down a request to paint the Queen because he was 'very busy.'

He said she would have made 'a terrific subject' but that he preferred to paint people he knew.

Peter Getting Out of Nick's Pool - a 1967 painting of his naked boyfriend Peter Schlesinger climbing out of a swimming pool - is one of Hockney's iconic images.

His Beverly Hills Housewife (1966-67) also shows a friend, Californian arts patron Betty Freeman, in a pink dress standing on the patio of her California modernist home.

That sold in 2009 for $7.9 million, a record for Hockney, at Christie's New York.

'A Bigger Picture,' an exhibition of Hockney landscapes, opens at the Royal Academy on January 21.

'I'm aware I've got a very good subject,' he said of the East Yorkshire scenery which inspires the paintings, 'and with each season, I begin to see more.'

The exhibition will also include a display of iPad drawings, a novel technique Hockney has been experimenting with for the past few years.

'One morning recently, I made a drawing on my iPhone while I was still in bed, of flowers through the window, and the sunrise, which I could then [email] to 12 people, without it ever having been photographed or printed, and that's very new,' Hockney said in a 2009 interview.

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