Fiachra Gibbons, arts correspondent
Thursday 16 January 2003 09.53 GMT
You can take the lad out of Yorkshire, but getting the Yorkshire out of the lad is trickier. David Hockney may be one of the richest artists in the world, but a bargain is still a bargain.
He has his eye on the portrait Lucian Freud did of him last summer - seen here for the first time - and he is not afraid to haggle.
Britain's two greatest living painters spent 3 months in each other's company, Freud sitting for Hockney for four hours before he became the subject of Freud's gimlet eye for considerably longer: 120 hours.
The wait was worth it though. "He made a marvellous image," Hockney admitted yesterday - in trademark matching red slippers and braces - as he unveiled his portrait of Freud at the Annely Juda gallery in London. The exhibition of double portraits, and landscapes of Iceland and Norway strongly reminiscent of work of the Canadian Group of Seven, is Hockney's first solo show in Britain for five years.
So good is Freud's portrait, which is about to be shown in a touring Tate show in Los Angeles, that Hockney would not mind having it. Nor does the fact that Freud is the most expensive living painter in Europe put him off. Bradford-born Hockney is willing to wheel and deal. "I don't mind paying for it," he said. "I would like it, I admit."
But he would not be drawn on whether he would pay the £3m going rate. "If it is sold, it will be sold only to me, probably. I put in an awful lot of time actually. I'm not a model, you know. I was giving him all my precious mornings."
Far from being tried by the reclusive Freud's demands, Hockney enjoyed the experience. "He allowed me to smoke and talk - I couldn't have done it otherwise. We gossiped, talked about painting. It was a thrilling experience. I think Lucian enjoyed it too."
Hockney usually forbids his subjects to speak. "Because I work faster, I'm not very good at talking. I'm a mumbler, so people can't always hear me and I can't hear them."
(Continued at https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2003/jan/16/arts.artsnews)