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 59.

    56. Sea Wolf
    If Hockney is art .... then I'm Leonardo Da Vinci !
    This award is just another example of pandering to the fashionable
    Oh well if you insist Leonardo!

    Must good art by default always be obscure? On a positive note: this has proven that art and artists make infinitely better subjects for discussion and debate than any politician could. I'm all for that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    L A Odicean "His drawing is OK but no better than a host of other figurative artists, and has more in common with the stylized work of graphic designers than the great draughtsmen of the past." Yes, I agree. This is one approach to art however; it hardly defines Hockney as 'not a good artist' as per Mr Bedbug. Gerhard Richter (and others) managed to blend painting and photography successfully.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    A fitting honour for Mr Hockney, with a fine body of work to commend him as an exceptional artist...

    Don't know enough about Mr Howard's merits to comment, although 'merit' and 'politician' rarely belong in the same sentence.

    Badge here: http://www.medals.org.uk/united-kingdom/united-kingdom008.htm

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    If Hockney is art .... then I'm Leonardo Da Vinci !

    This award is just another example of pandering to the fashionable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    All this spilt ink about a bloke who probably doesn't care a hoot about opinion. He's made his pile and now he's enjoying what he's done consistently well throughout his life; art. My view is that he's exceptionally good, have a look at his web gallery. The Queen or at least her art advisers have chosen well. Who would you have? Hirst? the Chapman twins, Gilbert & George? Please..............!

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    David Hockney: turned down a request to paint the Queen because he was "very busy", adding she would have made "a terrific subject" but that he preferred to paint people he knew. The Order of Merit doesn't seem to fit Hockney, or fits him like an ill-fitting suit. Like the dangling cigarette, Merit is not something to pin on the chest but something to do, to make, to BE.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    Isn't the Order of Merit awarded solely by the Queen? There's no political input I believe, much to the annoyance of the Commons. I also think that unlike an Honours Gong this one can't be declined being considered a sleight verging on treason. It's never been tested though no-one's ever declined it.
    David is the perfect recipient, a bluff, plain talking Bradford Tyke. Congratulations David.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    As for his drawing skills, most of his paintings (such as the Ossie Clark and Percy in the Tate) are worked entirely from photographs. He happily admits that photos are often the souce of his paintings. His drawing is OK but no better than a host of other figurative artists, and has more in common with the stylized work of graphic designers than the great draughtsmen of the past.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    I think the New Years honours list is out dated. There any many cases of selfless service that go unnoticed just because someone is gifted shouldn't mean that a gong is warranted. Surely being recognised by peers and public should be sufficient.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    45.bedbug97 "David Hockney is not a good artist." This would be in your view would it? Please explain what is unartistic about, say, 'Mr and Mrs Ossie Clark and Percy', currently in the Tate Collection.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    It takes huge talent for an artist as successful as Hockney was at a young age, to maintain the enthusiasm and inspiration throughout the long career that this award recognizes. He has been a great champion of traditional painting and drawing and has influenced a host of younger artists. Long may he continue to be the finest British painter since J M W Turner. He is a true genius.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    Re #41:

    Well said, the most reasoned point on this board.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    I hope someone has informed him that O.M. doesn't stand for Order of Marlboro. Maybe he accepted it because there's a dispensation that he would be able to smoke in the pub

    These awards are meaningless. He was an outstanding artist before he got it and he will be afterwards.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    As someone who grew up in Brid but now lives in the States I love looking at Mr Hockney's Wold paintings. They bring back memories of a happy childhood going for picnics up Fond Brigg Lane, chatting with the gypsies, paddling in the beck, climbing trees and building dens in Boynton woods. Only wish I could afford one!

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    David Hockney is not a good artist. He couldn't be bothered to learn to draw or paint. I mean by the exacting technical standards of a decent art school. There are many great artists in the UK but you will never here about them because we only celebrate mediocrity in this country. The queen also has one of the biggest collections of paintings in the world, so she should have much higher standards.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    And he did it all without the permission of Charles Saatchi . . Young artists take note. .

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    I am presuming he has turned down previous 'gongs' but this is a true honour for britain's greatest living artist. He is still producing some outstanding works and if you care to leave london to visit saltaire in yorkshire - you can spend a fab day experiencing his wide ranging portolio for free. Congratulations to him.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    Compared to the majority of useless modern 'artists' having their jokes peddled for bankers bonuses by hard nosed men in suits with slick PR campaigns, I would say David Hockney is a breath of fresh air.
    Oh for more of them...

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    Here we go again. It's that time of the year when the Monarchy hand out gongs to help keep the Establisment going and to preserve the status quo.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    Looking at Beverly Hills Housewife, i have to ask, has he been credited with inventing the Sims?


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