Artist David Hockney 'devastated' by assistant's death

LONDON Mon Mar 18, 2013 11:27pm GMT

British artist David Hockney poses in front of a detail of his painting ''The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty-eleven)'' at the Royal Academy of Arts in London January 16, 2012. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

British artist David Hockney poses in front of a detail of his painting ''The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty-eleven)'' at the Royal Academy of Arts in London January 16, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Luke MacGregor

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LONDON (Reuters) - Police are investigating the death of British artist David Hockney's assistant who was rushed to hospital from his employer's home early Monday and later died in hospital.

Humberside police said a 23-year-old man from Hockney's hometown of Bridlington in northeast England died in Scarborough General Hospital after being taken there in serious condition at around 6 a.m. on Monday by a friend.

Hockney's publicist, Erica Bolton, confirmed that the deceased was 23-year-old Dominic Elliott who had worked as an assistant in the artist's studio in Bridlington and was painted by Hockney on occasion.

"He worked for him for over two years and was a hugely valued member of the team," Bolton told Reuters.

"David Hockney has been unable to comment. He is really devastated by the news."

Bolton was unable to confirm local media reports that it was Hockney's long-term partner who had taken Elliott to hospital after he fell at their house or whether the artist was at home at the time.

Police said in a statement that the circumstances of the man's death were not clear and inquiries into the events leading to his death were ongoing.

"There were no signs of violence and a post mortem examination is due to take place tomorrow," said a police statement.

Tributes were paid to Elliott by the Bridlington rugby club, where he played in the first and second teams.

"He will be sadly missed by all the players and Club members," said a statement on the club's website.

Hockney, 75, famous for his colourful landscapes and portraits, is one of Britain's most influential living artists who was an important contributor to British pop art.

He was born in the northern city of Bradford in 1937 and spent decades in the United States. But he now lives in the seaside town of Bridlington and has spent the last few years painting the landscapes of the East Yorkshire Wolds.

A major show of Hockney's landscapes at the Royal Academy last year, titled, "A Bigger Picture", attracted more than 600,000 people.

(Reporting by Clare Hutchison and Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Michael Roddy)

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