David Hockney’s painting “Portrait of Nick Wilder” is an acrylic on canvas artwork measuring 72 x 72 inches. It marked a departure in Hockney’s work as it was the first portrait he had made in many years, and also signifies his move towards using acrylic paint. The painting depicts contemporary art dealer Nick Wilder, who was friends with both Hockney and Peter Schlesinger.
Hockney painted the artwork while spending time around Wilder’s swimming pool in Los Angeles, as part of a series of iconic works that he created during his time in California. This painting is particularly notable as Hockney was one of the first artists to extensively use acrylic paint and felt that it suited his technique for portraying suburban landscapes in California.
One interesting aspect of this artwork is its connection to gay subject matter, which was something that Hockney often explored throughout his career. “Portrait of Nick Wilder” is part of private collections previously owned by the Harry N. Abrams Family Collection and Fukuoka Soga Bank. Overall, this painting serves as an important piece both in terms of Hockney’s personal journey and for art history as a whole due to its notoriety as one of the earliest uses of acrylic paints in modern art practices.