“At the RCA, Quentin Crisp was a model and I got to know him a bit. I noticed he was the only model who’d go around looking at the drawings and comment on them. He’d make some funny comments. He was one of the first homosexuals I met, who was just gay, accepted what he was and he lived in a bohemian way. That’s what I did and I never thought much of it.”
Hockney may have enjoyed celebrity in London but it wasn’t enough to keep him. He was drawn to LA as his idealised version of America. “I was brought up in Bradford and Hollywood – because Hollywood was the cinema,” he told his biographer Christopher Simon Sykes. He was also in search of sun, sex and space. “I’d say one of the reasons I came here was sex. I knew all these Physique Pictorial [magazine] photographers were based here. I first came in 1964 and it was sexy, it was.”
Above a large pink bucket of paintbrushes in his studio, I notice a calendar of naked rugby stars on the wall. I point it out as Hockney is being photographed. “They’re nice bums,” he bellows, cheerfully from across the room. “I like bums.”
Caroline Daniel interviews David Hockney for FT Weekend.
All this and Grayson Perry and Douglas Coupland, too, in Britain's most gay-friendly weekend supplement.
See also David Hockney: A portrait of the artist as a gay man by Mark Brown in The Guardian on the exhibition of his early work at Liverpool's Walker gallery.
Hockney in the 1960s was making work on subjects he knew and cared about – primarily being a young gay man when you really couldn't shout about it. He wanted to propagandise homosexuality.
Some of the earliest paintings, heavily codified, reflect his desire for the singer Cliff Richard. Also in the show is the important We Two Boys Together Clinging, inspired by a work by the 19th-century poet Walt Whitman. The painting references a newspaper clipping detailing a climbing accident – "Two Boys Cling to Cliff All Night".
PS BBC Vision On-type gallery of your actual David Hockney homosexual art.