Mama reviews the David Hockney exhibition in Paris

The biggest art exhibition of this summer in Paris is undoubtedly the David Hockney retrospective, at the Pompidou. We dispatched Jennifer Hamerman straight down there to check it out and it turns out this is a great exhibition for all the family. MLP reports…

A knock-out

If I appear a little breathless as I write, it’s because we just returned from our visit to the Pompidou and we really just loved the Hockney exhibition.  It transferred to the Pompidou from the Tate in London, where it enjoyed record ticket sales.  It’s one of those shows where you are wowed in the beginning and then you keep turning into the next room and the next, and each wows you afresh.

The exhibition spans six decades of Hockney’s work and includes paintings, drawings, photography, and video.  The show is beautifully put together and very accessible for those not so familiar with his life and work. We left the exhibition with an inspiring sense of what this great British artist has achieved, and is indeed still achieving. As well as a wonderful sense of his personal story from Bradford, UK, to California via New York and back again.

Highlights of a glorious show

A Bigger Splash 1967 David Hockney born 1937 Purchased 1981

This is truly an exhibition where every nook draws you in and some of these wonderfully curated spaces are so awe-inspiring, they knock you out. But if we really must choose some highlights, then of course seeing A Bigger Splash was a very special moment.  We also loved the room with the ‘double portraits’, where the paintings are large, vivid and magically punctuated by the Pompidou’s windows with incredible real-life views of Paris. The combination is stunning.

when we stepped into the final room, we were struck by how vivid and fresh his 2017 work is.

The exhibition contained some great conversation starters with your kids, especially ‘Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy’, the famous painting of a couple, their cat and a telephone.

Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy 1970-1

We also noticed that the video installation The Four Seasons was especially mesmerising for all the kids at the exhibition,  filled with screens showing the same country lane in Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn and it drew everyone in. The Supper, his iPad creation from 2016 was also a winner and when we stepped into the final room, we were struck by how vivid and fresh his 2017 work is.

Engaging the kids

David Hockney’s art lends itself very well to children.  The bright colours, the stories and creativity mean there is plenty to chat with them about and engage them.  It’s worth introducing them in advance to a few of his best-known pieces, especially A Bigger Splash, so they’ll have that great sense of recognition when they see it in real life.  You can hear David Hockney talking about this painting in this audio clip from the Tate in London.

it means something to him that children like and respond to his work

You could also talk with the kids about Hockney’s start in life in the UK, in Bradford, and how his life and art took him to places like Paris and California and back to the UK again.  Rose Blake created a great kids’ activity book connected with the exhibition and it could be worth getting a hold of an English copy of it in advance or buy the French one in the gift shop just next to the exhibition.  And here is a great little video interview with David Hockney where he talks about how it means something to him that children like and respond to his work – maybe watch it with the kids before you go.

Hockney tours and workshops for kids and families

As always, the Pompidou has laid on some excellent tours and workshops around the Hockney exhibition. Splash! is a workshop aimed at 2 – 10 year-olds and their families and involves families creating their own art based on some of Hockney’s techniques.  And while you are in the Pompidou, don’t forget to visit the revamped Galerie des Enfants.  And of course, pop into the George bar and restaurant for stunning views of the city that will captivate the kids.

Whilst you’re in the neighbourhood…

The Pompidou’s location is terrific as you’re right in the heart of Paris.  Think about a stop in the Jardin Nelson Mandela for one of the best playgrounds in Paris.  Les Halles only gets more fun for families and a stop at the Lego store will make you very popular.  We are incapable of being in this neighbourhood and not making a stop at Francois Pralus to buy their delicious praline-filled brioche called Praluline.

Watch the MLP video of a day at the Pompidou to give you some insight into this wonderful space and go to the Pompidou website to find out more too.

The David Hockney Exhibition is on at The Pompidou Centre until October 23, 2017.

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