The Yorkshire born, Internationally renounced artist David Hockney was appointed a member of the Order of Merit ,by the Queen, at Buckingham Palace last week. The award recognises distinguished service in the armed forces, science, art, literature, or for the promotion of culture, and is limited to 24 living recipients at one time from commonwealth countries plus a limited number of honorary members. Established in 1902 by King Edward VII, admission into the order remains the personal gift of its Sovereign – in this instance, Queen Elizabeth II.
Hockney, 74, has said he turned down the chance of a Knighthood because he “does not care for a fuss”.”I don’t value prizes of any sort. I value my friends,” he said.
Born in Bradford in 1937, David Hockney attended Bradford School of Art before studying at the Royal College of Art from 1959 to 1962. Hockney’s stellar reputation was established while he was still a student; his work was featured in the exhibition Young Contemporaries, which heralded the birth of British Pop Art. He visited Los Angeles in the early 1960s and settled there soon after. He is closely associated with southern California and has produced a large body of work there over many decades. David Hockney was elected a Royal Academician in 1991.
When asked last year to paint a portrait of the Queen, Hockney replyed; “The Queen would make a “terrific subject” but I prefer to paint people I know.” The Artist has been busy organising his Landscapes exhibition, due to open early in January 2012, at the Royal Academy,The palace declined to comment on the story, but it is understood from an interview on Front Row, BBC radio 4 that the 74 year old was “very busy”. He added; “When I was asked I told them I was very busy painting England actually. Her country”. Hockney was offered a knighthood in 1990 but turned it down. He was furious when the information leaked out, particularly as he has since accepted being made a Companion of Honour. He told the local paper in Bradford: “I don’t value prizes of any sort. I value my friends. Prizes of any sort are a bit suspect. I turned it down because at the time I was living in America, but in the end I changed my mind because you have to be gracious.”