David Hockney creates a new digital sunrise to be shown at dusk on screens around the world

The world famous artist’s work will debut on London’s Piccadilly Lights amongst other recognisable locations around the world.

30 April 2021


David Hockney, one of the art world’s most celebrated figures, has created a digital sunrise to be unveiled on London’s famed Piccadilly Lights on 1 May at 20:21 BST. The new artwork will also be synchronised with over 70 electronic billboards from around the world including New York’s Times Square, Tokyo’s Yunika Vision and Seoul’s Coex K-Pop Square; which is the largest LED screen in South Korea. The digital sunrise marks part of a global collaboration with a new platform, Circa, which showcases digital art in a public space and founded by Josef O’Connor. Normal Rosenthal, chairman of the Circa Council adds: “I love the idea of sunrise at sunset. It’s a profound idea.”

The video piece is in the style of Hockney’s recognisable digital work, a style he coined just over a decade ago on the iPad. The artist says of the medium’s benefits: “There was a great advantage in this medium because it’s backlit and I could draw in the dark. I didn’t ever have to get out of bed.” Since then, his digital work has become a signature aspect of his portfolio, documenting his native Yorkshire landscapes and nature on the whole.

In this new piece, he depicts a hopeful sunrise, as some of the world start to ease lockdown restrictions due to the pandemic. Hockney says of the new artwork in a statement: “What does the world look like? We have to take time to see its beauty. That’s what I hope my work will encourage people to do when they see it on the large screens.” Derek Manns, commercial media director for Landsee, also says: “Piccadilly Lights is the beating heart of the UK, and has been the voice of the nation for the past 12 months whilst the global pandemic has prevented so many of us from connecting, sharing and being with the people around us. This is a campaign filled with hope and beauty just as we start to emerge from lockdown. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the reopening of London and other cultural destinations around the world.” 

The animated sunrise hopes to offer “a powerful symbol of hope and collaboration”, showing in the place of advertisements that would usually be on display while traveling tourists head into the city. Instead, come the beginning of May, local inhabitants instead of tourists will encounter the spontaneous artwork. As the statement puts it, “Hockney’s meditation on the arrival of spring.”

The depiction of the seasons are no stranger to the renowned artist and previously, we’ve covered Hockney’s manifesto on how spring cannot be cancelled; an ode to how art and nature could get us through the first lockdown. While in another article, we featured Hockney’s exclusive artwork for the cover of the Telegraph Magazine expressing a similar sentiment this time last year.

This artwork, however, was created on the artist’s iPad in Normandy, France, and coincides with the release of Hockney’s new book Spring Cannot be Cancelled. From 23 May to 26 September this year, he will also be exhibiting a new show at the Royal Academy titled The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020. There will also be a limited edition poster available to buy for £100, available to buy from the Circa website until 31 May 2021. 70 per cent of the profits will also be used to commission new culture and help support the creative community with the distribution of cash grants to artists and institutions too.


David Hockney: Sunrise (Copyright © David Hockney, 2021)

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David Hockney: Sunrise (Copyright © David Hockney, 2021)

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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.

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