De Young Museum, San Francisc
Through Jan. 20

The recent work of David Hockney “might seem an odd choice” to be honored with the largest exhibition ever to be mounted in a San Francisco–area fine arts museum, said Kenneth Baker in the San Francisco Chronicle. But the British native and longtime Southern California resident, now 76, still “has much to teach us about observation and depiction.” If the significance of an exhibit is whether you see the world differently after visiting it, this show easily passes the test. Nearly five decades after Hockney made his name with a series of color-drenched California poolscapes, he continues to invent new ways to see the world and represent it in two dimensions, whether in watercolors, video, or, most recently, drawings created on an iPhone. The parkland surrounding the museum “never looked as symphonically green to me” as it did after absorbing Hockney’s “startling range of green hues.”

“Don’t go in looking for sun-drenched poolscapes or palm trees,” said Robert Taylor in the San Jose Mercury News. Since 1997, Hockney has divided his time between California and his native Yorkshire, a setting that’s inspired uneven results. Midsummer: East Yorkshire, which arranges 36 small landscapes in a grid, “looks so fresh, with its fields, harvests, and puffy clouds,” that you might conclude Hockney reinvented himself around 2004. But then comes a series of massive oil paintings that render the English countryside in the “hyper-saturated color” of a Disney film. Fortunately, “it’s easy to escape all that melodrama” and find true innovation in this huge show. Nearby, four walls of video screens surround visitors with images of the Yorkshire woods in every season. That space “will surely become the exhibit’s central gathering place.”