The Tate Britain is hosting Hockney on Turner, its largest ever display of JMW Turner's watercolour masterpieces. Around 165 watercolours are being shown in six rooms, including The Blue Rigi (left) which was saved for the nation in April. At the heart of the show, Hockney presents his own selection of Turner's colour studies with his own commentary on the processes by which the artist constructed his perspectives of colour and light. Stephen Deuchar, director of Tate Britain, said Hockney had been approached to curate for his "artist's eye".
Speaking at the Clore Gallery yesterday, Hockney reminded the world that he may be one of Britain’s most highly regarded artists but he can also be irascible: during the course of his talk he launched a blistering attack on the impending ban on smoking in enclosed places (In England from 1 July)
"I might point out Turner smoked," he declared, adding it was a fairly common habit among great artists. "Monet smoked, and he died at 86. Picasso and Matisse smoked, and lived to a ripe old age. They didn't have dreary people telling them what to do..... I shall just carry on (smoking after the ban is in place). It won't make any difference to me. "I am appalled at it actually - they are treating us like children. I'm not a schoolboy. [Gordon] Brown thinks he's a prefect and I can't smoke behind the cricket pavilion. You will have lots and lots of people smoking in the street. And then they will start complaining again, that small group. It's not just smoking. People should start standing up for themselves. Where has the awkward squad gone? Where are the Arthur Scargills?"
I have heard Hockney talk about the smoking ban before and he came across like a whining p brat. Personally I won’t be sorry to see smoking banned in pubs, cafes etc, the idea of being able to have a drink and not smell like an ashtray appeals! As for Hockney, he has the right to say what he did of course (believe it or not we do have free speech here in the UK!) but similarly I have the right to think he’s talking through his arse! That said I am looking forward to taking a look at the exhibition.