Published on - Lotte Poté

5 things you didn't know about David Hockney

‘Just because I’m cheeky, doesn’t mean I’m not serious.’ Wise words from David Hockney. We already know how his passion and serious approach made him one of today's artistic legends. So now is the time to look at his ‘cheeky’ and more playful side. With these 5 things you didn't know you will discover another, lesser-known side to the artist.

Hockney 1992

This article is part of

All about David Hockney

© Richard Schmidt

2 dachshunds, 45 paintings                      

In 1995, Hockney produced some 45 paintings of Stanley and Boodgie, his beloved dachshunds. He spent three months preparing the series. He set up easels all over his house so as to capture his two playful four-legged friends in a variety of natural poses as quickly as possible. “Only the owner could have painted that," says Hockney.

2 odd socks

Light blond hair, round glasses with thick rims, a daring colour combination, mis-matched socks. Hockney remains a genuine style icon to this day. When he was living in the US he saw a TV advert for Clairol hair products with the slogan ‘Blondes have more fun’. The young artist immediately dyed his hair blonde and since then has enjoyed an incredible joie de vivre.

David Hockney & Lucian Freud © David Dawson

120 hours for Lucian Freud

In 2002, David Hockney and his fellow artist Lucian Freud decided they would each paint the other's portrait. Hockney posed for around 120 hours for his good friend, whereas Freud only had to sit for 4 hours. “He paints slowly and gossips,” Hockney said. “But when I'm painting I'm in silence."  

Hockney Rake's Progress decors
David Hockney, Drop Curtain for “The Rake’s Progress,” 1975–79, Collection of the David Hockney Foundation. © David Hockney.

7 opera sets, and many more colours

Hockney has a condition called synaesthesia, which means that when he listens to music he sees colours. His highly colourful theatre sets are testimony to this exceptional gift. He has designed sets for operas by Mozart, Wagner and Stravinsky, for example. Find out about his most beautiful stage sets in an earlier article.  

10 pounds for a Hockney

In 1957 Hockney sold his first work, a portrait of his father. It was exhibited at the Leeds Art Gallery in the young artist's home county of Yorkshire. Legend has it that the work was sold for just 10 pounds. 


The double exhibition of David Hockney's work is about to enter its final week! Book your ticket before 23 January.