David Hockney was born in Bradford on 9 July 1937, and studied at Bradford School of Art from 1953 to 1957. He attended the Royal College of Art, London, from 1959 to 1962, where he won the gold medal. Among his fellow students were R.B. Kitaj and other nascent British Pop artists. His first solo exhibition was held in 1963 at Kasmin Gallery, where the artist continued to exhibit until its closure in 1991.
Hockney moved to Los Angeles in 1963, began to use synthetic polymer paints rather than oils, and further investigated photographic pictorial sources as well as drawing from life. His consummately skilled graphic work includes etchings and lithographs in addition to ink, pencil and crayon drawings. The texts he has illustrated range from the Brothers Grimm to C.P. Cavafy and Wallace Stevens.
His first retrospective exhibition was held at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, in 1970. In the mid-1970s Hockney began to design for the opera stage and continued to experiment in other media, including dyed paper pulp for the Paper Pools series, Polaroid and composite photographs, and colour photocopies in the mid-1980s leading to faxed and computer-generated art. Another major retrospective was displayed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Tate Gallery, London, in 1988.
Hockney was elected to the Royal Academy in 1990. He won the Charles Wollaston Award for his Grand Canyon paintings at the 1999 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. He began to work with the camera lucida, and in 2000 published a book, Secret knowledge: Rediscovering the Techniques of the Old Masters, arguing that European painters have used optical devices for nearly 600 years.