David Hockney Criticised For Childish Tube Sign Design

David Hockney design for Piccadilly Circus Tube

On the eve of a major new show at the Royal Academy, Britain’s best-loved artist David Hockney has been criticised, by members of the public, mostly on social media, for his Piccadilly tube station redesign, commissioned by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. The same old chestnut has been rearing its head in the fall out, which exclaims, “it could have been done by my seven year old!” I suppose with the opening of the Dubuffet exhibition at the Barbican, the vocal public will have the opportunity to learn about Art Brut and its influence on art in our time. This is nothing new, let the public outrage begin! At least it promotes discussion and engagement.

Here are some of the tweets:

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan – Brilliant work from David Hockney in Piccadilly—the first of a series of major art projects we’ve commissioned as part of our brand new #LetsDoLondon campaign. Lots more to come very soon! #DavidHockney

Twitter Crossfire

“If you had said this was a children’s competition to redesign the logo and this was the winner I’d have [believed] it,” wrote one user.

“All artists are prepared to suffer for their work,” added another. “It’s a real shame that David Hockney expects the rest of us to f****** suffer on his behalf.”

A common complaint was the fact that Hockney, the country’s most famous—if overexposed—artist got the gig in the first place. “It’s a shame London isn’t packed w. creative artists who’ve had a really rough year and could’ve used both the money and the exposure this would provide, while also being a brilliant showcase for the city’s diversity, pride and passion,” concluded one commenter.

To be fair, Hockney reportedly made the illustration for free. And no one actually thinks he forgot to leave room for the “s.”

In reality, he probably made the piece on his iPad, perhaps between rounds of Fruit Ninja, one hand on the tablet, the other pinching a lit cigarette. He was likely trying to instill in the design the same sense of childlike hope that has underscored much of his recent work, such as his 116 new spring-themed iPad paintings opening this month at London’s Royal Academy of Arts.

Still, as far as the online universe of criticism was concerned, the conclusion was clear: the artist phoned it in.

Summing it up nicely, one Tweeter wrote:

“London: “David, you said you’d have something to us by today?”

*crashing noise*

London: “David? Are you there?”

*panicked scribbling sounds*

David Hockney: “Yes, yes. Just sending it…”

David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, Royal Academy 2020 23 May 2021 – 26 September 2021

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