David Hockney at Piccadilly Circus

For every evening this month, a two and a half minute animated installation by David Hockney will be shown on the Piccadilly Lights screen at 8:21pm (20:21, like the year).

To be more precise the piece consists of a 1.25min video shown twice directly one after another. The artist created it on his iPad over a series of early mornings while watching the sun rise from his home in Normandy. He has been based there since 2019.

The work is part of an international series created by CIRCA, and which previously had videos of Patti Smith and Ai Weiwei shown on the Piccadilly advertising screens.

Hockney said in interviews that he wants to inspire people to welcome spring and stop for a moment to see its beauty. According to CIRCA, “In this worldwide display of unity, Hockney’s animated sunrise seeks to offer a symbol of hope and collaboration as the world awakens from its lockdowns. Members of the public across these four cities will be able to see the commonplace advertisements paused and replaced for a spontaneous encounter with Hockney’s meditation on the arrival of spring.”


“Remember you cannot look at the sun or death for very long” is the name Hockney gave his work. The line can also be seen being scribbled across the video screens twice in the process. The art will be rolling over giant screens at four other cities worldwide:

New York’s Times Square at 23:57 EST

Seoul’s Coex K-POP Square LED screen at 20:21KST

Tokyo’s Yunika Vision at 21:00 JST

Los Angeles: Pendry West Hollywood, the largest digital media display on the Sunset Strip at 20:21PST

You can also watch it live online via the CIRCA.ART website at 20:21 BST.


I’ll be frank. Ellie & I love Hockney’s early art (in particular this 2017 exhibition), really don’t mind his later works, but very much dislike the iPad animations. We struggle to see any art in it. At a time when millions of young artists around the world are struggling badly and a time when the art industry is already heavily dominated by geriatric millionaire artists, we don’t see the point of an 83-year old given such a prominent platform to promote his upcoming Royal Academy of Art exhibition and book.


I think I read somewhere that a percentage of the net profits will be used to support lesser known artists. Generally speaking I’m a great believer in Big is Bad, and CIRCA is getting big. Hockney has been big for more than half a century. We don’t need any vague hopes of trickle-down effects. We need young artists’ work displayed prominently in places like Piccadilly Circus.

Looking for more about the arts? Feel welcome to check out our posts about ‘Being Modern’: MoMA at Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, ‘Reflections on Nature’, Chihuly in Kew Gardens, the London Symphony Orchestra performing Stockhausen, or about our visit to London Never Dies at the London Cabaret Club.

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