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Hockney topples Hirst as Tate’s most popular living artist

Recent exhibition at Tate Britain is sure to boost museum’s declining visitor figures

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Tate Britain’s recent David Hockney retrospective (9 February-29 May), has become the Tate group’s most popular ticketed solo exhibition by a living artist. With a total of 478,082 visitors (4,346 a day), it eclipsed the previous record holder, Damien Hirst, whose show drew 463,087 people (2,912 a day) to Tate Modern in 2012. Hockney was in such high demand that in March the London museum extended its opening hours to 10pm every Friday and Saturday, and until midnight on the exhibition’s final weekend.

The show looks certain to boost Tate Britain’s overall visitor numbers for the year, which have declined from more than two million a year during the mid-1990s (before Tate Modern opened) to 1.1 million in 2016. However, the exhibition fell short of the 600,989 visitors (7,512 a day) who crammed into Hockney’s A Bigger Picture show at London’s Royal Academy of Arts in 2012. It also failed to clinch the title of Tate’s most popular show ever, which remains Henri Matisse: the Cut-Outs at Tate Modern in 2014, with 562,622 visitors (3,907 a day).