Spring Cannot Be Cancelled David Hockney in Normandy

Martin Gayford, David Hockney

David Hockney reflects upon life and art as he experiences lockdown in rural Normandy in this inspiring book which includes conversations with the artist and his latest artworks.

On turning eighty, David Hockney sought out rustic tranquility for the first time: a place to watch the sunset and the change of the seasons; a place to keep the madness of the world at bay. So when Covid-19 and lockdown struck, it made little difference to life at La Grande Cour, the centuries-old Normandy farmhouse where Hockney set up a studio a year earlier, in time to paint the arrival of spring. In fact, he relished the enforced isolation as an opportunity for even greater devotion to his art.

Spring Cannot Be Cancelled is an uplifting manifesto that affirms art’s capacity to divert and inspire. It is based on a wealth of new conversations and correspondence between Hockney and art critic Martin Gayford, his long-time friend and collaborator. Their exchanges are illustrated by a selection of Hockney’s new Normandy drawings and paintings alongside works by Van Gogh, Monet, Bruegel, and others. We see how Hockney is propelled ever forward by his infectious enthusiasms and sense of wonder. A lifelong contrarian, he has been in the public eye for sixty years, yet remains entirely unconcerned by the view of critics or even history. He is utterly absorbed by his four acres of northern France and by the themes that have fascinated him for decades: light, color, space, perception, water, trees. He has much to teach us, not only about how to see . . . but about how to live.


Amply illustrated, both with new pieces by Hockney and works by artists of previous eras… The overall effect is of a continuous slide lecture delivered in a delightfully informal style. It is also, as the title indicates, an affirmation of life in grim times.

— John Dorfman Art & Antiques

Warm, intelligent and quietly inspiring… A memoir of love in the time of Covid: of friendship and a shared passion for art… Spring Cannot be Cancelled takes us inside the mind of a major modern artist.

— The Wall Street Journal

A bright amble through Hockney's emails to (and context from) his old friend Martin Gayford on such topics as good countries for smokers, and theories of perspective with art by Hockney and others.

— Vanity Fair

Few artists have responded to the pandemic more vibrantly than David Hockney… One of the most exciting artbooks to come down the pike in years… The correspondence [with art critic, friend and co-author Gayford]…is a kind of modern, digital version of Vincent van Gogh's letters to his brother Theo.



Martin Gayford


Martin Gayford is art critic for The Spectator. His books include Man with a Blue Scarf; Modernists and Mavericks; Spring Cannot Be Cancelled, with David Hockney; A History of Pictures, with David Hockney; Shaping the World, with Antony Gormley; and Love Lucian: The Letters of Lucian Freud, 1939-1954, with David Dawson.

David Hockney


David Hockney, one of the most celebrated living artists, has a long-standing interest in the role of optics in art.