Born to a working class family in Bradford, England, Hockney began his studies at Bradford School of Art in 1953. In 1959 the artist moved to London to continue his studies at the Royal College of Art. Hockney's early works, frequently homoerotic in content, were stylistically influenced by Jean Dubuffet, founder of the Art Brut movement.
Pop artist, Hockney's wide ranging works are impossible to catagorize under one movement. The artist first visited Los Angeles in 1963 and immediately embraced the free-wheeling West Coast lifestyle, moving his studio there in 1964. This move was to play a pivotal role in the development of Hockney's signature style. In California, Hockney switched from an oil to an acrylic palette of saturated color to achieve the smooth flat surface that characterizes his work. The artist also began experimenting with the medium of photography and used photographs as studies for his canvases.
The influence of 20th-century masters Matisse and Picasso is apparent in Hockney's exhuberent color and strong design sense. Hockney's artistic endeavors extend to a wide variety of media and, in addition to his landscapes and poolscapes, he is well known for sophisticated portraits that exude a detached formality.
Hockney has also earned a reputation as an innovative theater designer, designing sets for the Metropolitan Opera and the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. He is widely regarded as the foremost British artist of the 20th century.