To get to the David Hockney show, the person at the information desk told me, one must go up the stairs, turn left, hang a right at Rodin, but not wander into the Michelangelo by mistake. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is an enormous and overstuffed old place. Hockney’s work is lighter than air, each composition lifting the viewer up. It feels odd to go from his watery spaces into the dark, dark cavern of the Michelangelo exhibition, which is how most tourists this winter will experience these two shows. The casual viewer will drift from one room to the other, perhaps wandering next through the snowy-soft Monet and Pissarro rooms. They might see the corner that has two Van Goghs and three Gauguins jammed into it. Maybe they’ll remember the rooms as distinct, maybe not. Can Hockney—breezy savant, playful genius—breathe in such stifling conditions? The exhibition has come to the Met via the Tate Britain and the Paris Pompidou, but New York is the last stop on its Fashion Week–ish journey. The works are from every era in David Hockney’s life. Here are the victorious early paintings of the 1962 art school graduate, who by the following year was a big star meeting the Queen Mother in a gold lamé jacket. Here are the iPad drawings of an old artist’s view out his bedroom window each morning. Here’s the Grand Canyon done in capsicum red. And in between—or perhaps hovering over them all, like a smell or a ghost—is an attempt to summarize a great man’s career. Its center, of course, is A Bigger Splash (1967). Four rectangles (sky, villa, pool, and ground) float in a blank border, rudely slashed by the diagonal diving board. Until seeing the work in person, I’d never realized that the house is painted over the sky in such a way that you can see the blue at the lefthand edge of the house. This gives the painting a strongly graphic feel, as if it has been screen-printed in wonderful opaque inks for a magazine spread. That textural sense is fitting, since diving into a private swimming pool is a very aspirational idea. California, blue skies, and palm trees are from the vocabulary of advertising, but here they are made sublime. By raising the L.A. lifestyle up into the fine