David Hockney appointed to Order of Merit

David Hockney David Hockney's distinctive looks made him one of the faces of the 1960s

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British artist David Hockney has been appointed a member of the Order of Merit by the Queen - despite turning down a knighthood in 1990.

The Order of Merit is presented to high achievers in the arts, learning, literature, science and other areas such as public service.

Hockney, 74, has said he turned down the chance to become a sir because he "does not care for a fuss".

"I don't value prizes of any sort. I value my friends," he said.

The order, created by King Edward VII in 1902, is restricted to 24 members and rare additional foreign recipients.

The Order of Merit does not come with a title but members are given a red and blue enamel badge, which reads "For Merit".

When a member dies the badge is returned to the Queen, who receives the next-of-kin personally.

Yorkshire return

In 2003, Hockney told Bradford's Telegraph & Argus paper that prizes "of any sort are a bit suspect".

He said had turned a knighthood down because, at the time, he had been living in the US and "did not think it was for me but I don't have strong feelings about the honours system".

He was speaking after information about people who had turned down honours was leaked to the Sunday Times.

Back in September, he told BBC Radio 4's Front Row programme 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.

David Hockney exhibition A Bigger Picture, an exhibition of Hockney landscapes, opens at the Royal Academy this month

Hockney, one of the best-known figures from the 1960s British pop art movement, first attracted interest while studying at the Royal College of Art.

His figurative drawings and paintings gave him a reputation as a figure who bridged high art and pop art while his blond, bespectacled, youthful appearance made him one of the faces of the decade.

In recent years, Hockney has returned to his native Yorkshire after spending years in California, where he has been inspired by light and space with his paintings of swimming pools proving to be some of his most memorable works.

Beverley Hills Housewife by David Hockney Hockney's 4-metre canvas Beverly Hills Housewife was painted in 1966-1967

His Beverly Hills Housewife - which shows Californian arts patron Betty Freeman in a pink dress standing on the patio of her home - sold in 2009 for an artist record $7.9m (£5.1m) at Christie's New York.

His forthcoming landscapes exhibition in London, A Bigger Picture, will feature some of his more recent works embracing technology.

The pro-smoking campaigner's exhibition, which opens on 21 January at the Royal Academy, is inspired by the East Yorkshire landscape of which he has said: "I'm aware I've got a very good subject, and with each season, I begin to see more."

The exhibition will include a display of iPad drawings and a series of films produced using 18 cameras, displayed on multiple screens.

Some current members of the Order

  • Sir Thomas Stoppard, playwright
  • Sir Timothy Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web
  • Professor Sir Roger Penrose, physicist
  • Sir David Attenborough, naturalist and broadcaster
  • Baroness Betty Boothroyd, politician

In 2009, he said: "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."

Meanwhile, former Australian prime minister John Howard has also become a member of the Order of Merit.

Mr Howard, Australia's second-longest serving prime minister, served in office from 1996 to 2007.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    13.ship-of-fools "Please try and bring some pleasure into your arid lives". A little judgmental but you tell 'em pal! Utilitarianism is great! (But it must not be achieved through being a PC monster. These people must adapt.)

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Erm, did anyone notice that John Howard received the award too, or is it just Daily Mail readers post on this site?

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    A real artist given the recognition he deserves well done David

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    A great artist ( visit t he Royal Academy for his forthcoming exhibition!) a great and articulate character, and a long overdue honour......and what has smoking got do do with it? A free thinking man in a free country. Congratulations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    these Pathetic awards make me sick to the pit of my stomach

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    For a great artist to be recognised while still alive is remarkable, good luck to him. And by the way I don't think a photo exists of Hockney without a a cig in his mouth! Who cares? It's his personal choice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    I'm sure Hockney doesn't care a fig about the Vox Populi. There's always some PC monster waiting to pronounce their misery upon someone or something. Please try and bring some pleasure into your arid lives.

    Hockney is great, he is who he is because he doesn't compromise in his art or his chosen lifestyle.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    10.billypockets. Who are you to say what's 'meritworthy' and what isn't? Why should the media be arbiters of how people wish to behave? David Hockney is renowned for being his own person and he is also a first-class artist. It's a shame that he has allowed himself to become a part of the Windsor trick of embellishing themselves through annointing others.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    I am amazed that he hasn't had some form of recognition before. He is Britain's greatest living artist, who has pushed the boundaries of painting and drawing throughout his career. He can draw, which is a skill that is sadly lacking in most of today's artists. His landscapes are brilliant. He is a real character and an honest man. Tracey Emin - eat your own bed!

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Here in Bridlington we love Mr Hockney. He's our local deity. God bless him.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    "Even without Ministerial involvement it’s clear that the Establishment will always look after themselves"

    Didn't take long for the knockers and whingers to come out from under their stone did it? Try, "Well done David Hockney" or would the thought of saying something positive choke you?

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Members are given a red and blue enamel badge, which reads "For Merit".

    What, like a Blue Peter Badge ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Hockney's recent landscapes are utterly fantastic. They have allowed me to forgive him his earlier stuff which was quite self-indulgent.

    Similarly, I look forward to Tracey Emin becoming the great artist I know she can be now she has begun to mature intellectually.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    I'm underwhelmed by Establishment recognition awards, they mean little. However, if they're being handed out then David Hockney certainly deserves one. Like all really exceptional artists he is constantly engaged with his skill. His work improves, he's engaged with technology and his objective is to produce really good work. Unlike many of his younger contemporaries who I can't be bothered with.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    I'm so pleased to hear that David Hockney has been recognised as someone worthy of an honour for all the joy his work has brought over the years and because he's someone who is still exploring and pushing the boundaries of his art. I'm amazed he isn't already a knight, unless he has refused the honour of course.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    What this article conveniently overlooks is the fact that two of the 24 members of this exclusive club for the Nation’s “high achievers” independently appointed by the Queen are:

    1) the Queen’s husband and
    2) the Queen’s eldest son

    You really couldn’t make it up!!

    Even without Ministerial involvement it’s clear that the Establishment will always look after themselves

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Welcome news.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Marvellous news! The World's Greatest Living Artist has been justly recognised as such. Thank you David Hockney for the pleasure your art has bestowed over the last 50 years.


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