Britains greatest living artist honoured in New Years list
Buckingham Palace has announced that the painter David Hockney has been appointed as a member of the Order of Merit by the Queen. The honour is presented to individuals of great achievement in the arts, science, learning, literature,and other areas of public service. The medal is similar to France’s Legion d’honneur and America’s Congressional Gold Medal. The order was created by King Edward VII in 1902 and is restricted to 24 members which includes the occasional foreign recipient.
The Order of Merit does not come with a title. 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 then receives the next-of-kin personally. She also commissions a portrait to be painted of each member, which becomes part of the royal collection. The palace also hosts a gathering for the entire group every five years. Members include former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, playwright Sir Tom Stoppard, and the inventor of the worldwide web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Nelson Mandela is the only honorary member.
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.”