Self Portrait
1953

Bradford Art School

In 1953, Hockney enters the Bradford School of Art, a small institution where the focus is on traditional observation drawing and figurative work.[NESTED]Over the next four years, he develops beyond drawing and studying to become a commercial artist, realizing that painting is what most deeply engages him.

Hockney, the young student
Hockney, the young student
Looking at Pictures in an Exhibition, 1957
Self Portrait Study (& Verso)
Self Portrait
Self Portrait
Self Portrait
Self Portrait
Self Portrait
Interior with Fireplace and Chair
Interior with Figures
Domestic Interior
Portrait Study
Portrait Study (Kenneth Hockney?)
Street Scene
Hutton Terrace, Eccleshill
Bradford Co-operative Society
Crab
Flower Studies
Plant Study
Duck Swimming
Swan and Duck Study
Duck Study
Duck Study
Shells
Fish Studies

I was interested in everything at first. I was an innocent boy of sixteen and I believed everything they told me, everything. If they said, "You have to study perspective," I’d study perspective; if they told me to study anatomy, I’d study anatomy. It was thrilling, after being at the grammar school, to be at a school where I knew I would enjoy everything they asked me to do. I loved it all and I used to spend twelve hours a day in the art school.

Sketches (& Verso)
Stairwell (& Verso)
Life Study I

Painting Bradford

Bradford Street Scene, 1955

He turns to the streets of post-war Bradford and its environs [NESTED]as a painting subject.

I did a number of little pictures of semi-detached houses, Bradford suburbs. I put all the paints on a little cart made from a pram, wheeled it out and painted on the spot.

I did a number of little pictures of semi-detached houses, Bradford suburbs. I put all the paints on a little cart made from a pram, wheeled it out and painted on the spot.

Street Scene
Street Scene, Bradford
Copy of Cotman's 'Greta Bridge'
Railway Yard
Domestic Interior
Gardens with Wire-Mesh Fencing
Orchestra Sketch
Potted Plant
Cacti
The Queen's Pub
Potted Plant in Window (& Verso)

First sale

His painting Portrait of my Father, exhibited at the Yorkshire Artists Exhibition at Leeds Art Gallery in 1957, is the first work he ever sells.

Portrait of My Father, 1955

My father, who’d bought the canvas, set up the easel and then set up a chair for himself, and he set mirrors round so he could watch the progress of the painting and give a commentary. And he would say, "Oooh, that’s too muddy, is that for my cheek? No, no, it’s not that color." I had this commentary all the time, and I’d say, "Oh, no, you’re wrong, this is how you have to do it, this is how they paint at the art school," and I carried on. You aimed at likeness, but what you were really concerned about was tonal values—making sure you’d get the right tone. This meant you ignored color. Color was not a subject of painting in the art school.

Self Portrait
Woman with Sewing Machine
Fish and Chip Shop

Graduates from Bradford Art School

Hockney graduates, in 1957, with a First Class Diploma with Honours for the National Diploma in Design examination. He feels ready for bigger waters, beyond Bradford.

In my last year, when we’d already done a lot of drawing, I realized how academic the art school was and I began to think, "The whole problem is, I don't know anything about modern art." They liked Sickert; Sickert was the great god and the whole style of painting in that art school—and in every other art school in England—was a cross between Sickert and the Euston Road School …. On the other hand, if you’re a twenty-year-old, what does it matter?

In my last year, when we’d already done a lot of drawing, I realized how academic the art school was and I began to think, "The whole problem is, I don't know anything about modern art." They liked Sickert; Sickert was the great god and the whole style of painting in that art school—and in every other art school in England—was a cross between Sickert and the Euston Road School …. On the other hand, if you’re a twenty-year-old, what does it matter?

Labor Omnia Vincit, 1957
Roadmenders, Eccleshill, 1957

National Service

He is accepted at two London art schools, the Royal College of Art and the Slade, but must first complete two years of National Service. He does so as a conscientious objector by working as an orderly at St Luke’s Hospital in Bradford and St Helen’s Hospital in Hastings. Though he does not have the time to paint during his service, he does manage to see two exhibitions that make a deep impression on him: Alan Davies at Wakefield Art Gallery, and Jackson Pollock at Whitechapel Gallery, London.

Composition in Greys and Browns
Man Wearing Striped Jacket and Yellow Tie
Composition in Yellow and Orange
Seated Man
Clown
Abstraction