David Hockney is with no doubt the most celebrated UK living artist. David Hockney’s legendary use of color is second only to his perennial love for technology and methods for artmaking. He was one of the first artists to make extensive use of acrylic paint, a medium particularly useful for him when painting large areas of color as it is fast drying. But perhaps more remarkable is his use of technology to challenge traditional treatments of artwork.

A lover of the outdoors, the iPad allowed Hockney to simplify the process of drawing and painting “en plein air”. This new body of work inevitably prompted skepticism from critics, but it nonetheless rose to international acclaim. Today, Hockney’s works sell at auction all over the world for record prices.

In this article, we will highlight some of the paintings that sold at auction recently. Auction results for Prints will be found in the relevant section of this website.

 

 

Auction Summary


YTD 2022 Auction Results

Revenues: USD 149,006,893
# Lots sold: 16
# Lots unsold: 3
Sell-Through Rate: 84%
Top Price: USD 23,290,000

2021 Auction Results

Revenues: USD 56,542,010
# Lots sold: 13
Sell-Through Rate: 100%
Top Price: USD 11,000,000

1. Landscapes


DAVID HOCKNEY (b. 1937)
Winter Timber, 2009
Oil on canvas, in 15 parts
Overall: 108 x 240 inches (274.3 x 609.6 cm)
Sotheby’s New-York: 9 November 2022
Estimated: USD 10,000,000 – 15,000,000
USD 23,290,000
DAVID HOCKNEY (b. 1937)
Queen Anne’s Lace Near Kilham, 2010-2011
Oil on canvas
67 x 102 1/4 inches (170.2 x 259.7 cm)
Christie’s New-York: 9 November 2022
Estimated: USD 8,000,000 – 12,000,000
USD 18,710,000
Queen Anne’s Lace Near Kilham is a triumph of contemporary landscape painting. In a departure from the historic traditions of the genre, Hockney banished the sweeping vista in favor of presenting a carpet of wild Queen Anne’s Lace. The flower, which flourishes in the heat of high summer, covers the field in a swathe of lush green foliage topped with crowns of delicate white flowers. Interspersed amongst the titular flowers are other meadow plants, the different organic forms woven into the organic tapestry the artist lays out before us. Three large trees stand majestically in the rear of the field casting a protective cloak of shade over the scene, the shadows rendered in Fauvist purples and smoky pinks. As the blanket of Queen Anne’s Lace withdraws towards the horizon, it dissolves into pointillist variegated dots that recede into the distance.
Another remarkable aspect of Hockney’s landscapes is the physical investment he makes in each canvas. He often visited his chosen location many times over the course of a year, each time reacting differently to the view as it changed over the seasons. Sometimes he paints from life, at other times he takes photographs which he later works from in his studio. He paints in all weathers, and neither rain, snow or scorching sunshine stops him from capturing the moments that enthrall him. His former assistant recalled how he would often be woken early in the morning by Hockney when the artist realized that the light would be just right for a day’s painting. Canvases, paints, and brushes would be packed into the artist’s small van and driven to the chosen location. Hockney worked at a feverish but considered pace, using the viscous properties of the oil paint to capture the nature of the scene before him. Sometimes he worked on a single canvas (such as Queen Anne’s Lace Near Kilham), but later he would work on a more monumental scale, painting a series of large-scale canvases that would be joined together to complete the finished scene.

DAVID HOCKNEY
Woldgate Woods II, 16 & 17 May, 2006
Oil on canvas, in 6 parts
Each: 91.4 x 121.9 cm (36×48 inches)
Overall: 182.9 x 365.8 cm (72×144 inches)
Signed David Hockney and dated 16 + 17 May 06 (on the reverse of panel 6)
Numbered (on the reverse of each panel)
Sotheby’s London: 29 June 2022
Estimated: GBP 10,000,000 – 15,000,000

A work of sublime vastness, Woldgate Woods II, 16 & 17 May 2006 is an extraordinary example of David Hockney’s long-running investigation into place, landscape, memory and topography. Here, Hockney utilises a palette of luxuriantly bright greens and deep, cool browns against the backdrop of ivory sky to conjure the sensation of roaming through the efflorescent woods of his native East Yorkshire in springtime. After twenty-five years spent in Southern California, where he executed iconic depictions of the invariably sunlit, dream-like landscape of Los Angeles, Hockney’s return to the multifaceted, active Northern English landscape of his youth reinvigorated his sensibilities, prompting an unprecedented period of artistic reinvention. This moving ode to homeland is a splendid manifestation of Hockney’s exploration into the nuances of perspective and colour, as well as the limitations and possibilities of photography. Executed in 2006, the present work marks a buoyant revival of landscape painting in the Twenty-First Century and is a work that cements Hockney’s renown as Britain’s greatest living painter.

Woldgate Woods II, 16, & 17 May 2006 belongs to a series of nine monumental six-panel paintings of the same vista, captured in its varied appearance over the course of the changing seasons. The Wolds are a vast, uniquely pristine pocket of agricultural land between York and the seaside town of Bridlington, where Hockney worked in his adolescence and where he embarked on long country drives with his aging mother upon his homecoming in his sixties.

Fascinated by the temporal and spatial movement of the landscape that he knew so intimately and saw transform from season to season, Hockney allows his recollections to weave into the way he sees and paints the landscape in the moment, thus channelling the fluxes and flows of nature and amalgamating them into a single depiction. He draws heavily on the Impressionists and Post-impressionists by working en plein air and applying remarkable speed in order to capture the fleeting shapes and moods of the rapidly changing vista. Vincent Van Gogh, with his ability to see clearly into the world before him, is a particularly strong influence for Hockney, whose own unparalleled attentiveness to the idiosyncrasies of each separate element in a natural environment vibrantly manifests in Woldgate Woods II, 16, and 17 May 2006.

 

DAVID HOCKNEY
Woldgate Woods, Winter, 2010
Nine synchronised digital videos
Overall: 206×362 cm (81 x 142.5 inches)
This work is number 7 from an edition of 10
Sotheby’s London: 2 March 2022
GBP 922,500

A remarkably vast panorama of spatial depth, Woldgate Woods, Winter 2010 is part of Hockney’s continued exploration of time, landscape, perception and memory in a site that has proved a profoundly important subject for the artist throughout his much-acclaimed career. In a pivotal creative re-invention, Hockney’s first multi-camera video carefully recorded the effects of sunlight, shadow and other ephemeral effects of weather as they impacted on the expansive snowy landscape of a forest in East Yorkshire, transforming the bucolic North of England into something visionary. The significance of this key work has been repeatedly recognized through its inclusion in several of Hockney’s recent major exhibitions, including the comprehensive survey of his landscapes, David Hockney: A Bigger Picture, at the Royal Academy in London in 2012 (which later travelled to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the Museum Ludwig in Cologne) and the landmark career retrospective, David Hockney, at Tate Britain in London in 2017 (which later travelled to the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York).

In keeping with Hockney’s progressive use of technology, a common theme throughout his oeuvre, Woldgate Woods, Winter 2010 belongs to a pioneering series of video works created by Hockney in the countryside near his childhood home in East Yorkshire. The series comprises four separate video works, each depicting a different season and made up of nine screens arranged in three rows of three displaying footage captured using nine separate cameras fixed on top of a gradually moving vehicle. Allowing viewers to see the changing viewpoints simultaneously in one visual space and in real time, the present work focuses on the expansive snowy landscape situated on either side of the narrow Roman road which runs through Woldgate Woods from Bessingby Hill to the village of Kilham.

By recording the same track with nine separate cameras filming at the same time, Hockney managed to create what he refers to as a ‘Cubist movie’ in which multiple viewpoints literally capture changing time and space, an effect the artist also has sought to represent in many of his painted landscapes. The cameras filming the track all point in slightly different directions, yet the nine separate views in the final work bring together these varied viewpoints via a two-dimensional viewing surface.

DAVID HOCKNEY
The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven) – 4 May, 2011
iPad drawing printed on four sheets of paper and mounted on four sheets of Dibond
Overall: 235 x 166.7 cm (92 1/2 x 65 5/8 inches)
This work is number 9 from an edition of 10
Phillips London: 3 March 2022
GBP 504,000

Executed in a brilliantly bold selection of layered greens, yellows, and blues befitting its subject, The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven) – 4 May is a joyous celebration of the natural world, life, and regeneration from this quintessential British artist. Drawing parallels to John Constable’s sustained focus on the gently rolling hills of the Dedham Vale, or the seasonal changes occurring in and around the sleepy agricultural village of Giverny obsessively captured over four decades by Claude Monet, Hockney’s return to his late mother’s home in Bridlington offered a new and rich subject for the artist. Revelling in the seasonal shifts unfolding in his native Yorkshire countryside, the body of work that emerged from this period represents ‘the most sustained and painterly sequence of pictures in his life’, closely focused on qualities of light, colour and organic form.’

 

DAVID HOCKNEY
Woldgate Tree, May, 2006
Oil on canvas
48×36 inches (121.9 x 91.4 cm)
Christie’s New-York: 11 November 2021
USD 6,270,000

DAVID HOCKNEY
Guest House Garden, 2000
Oil on canvas
60×76 inches (152.4 x 193.2 cm)
Christie’s London: 14 October 2021
GBP 5,800,000

 

DAVID HOCKNEY
Walnut Trees, 2006
Oil on canvas
36×48 inches (91.5 x 122cm)
Christie’s London: 11 February 2020
GBP 3,251,250

Included in David Hockney’s landmark exhibition A Bigger Picture at the Royal Academy of Arts in 2012, Walnut Trees is a radiant love letter to the East Yorkshire landscape. Painted in 2006, two years after his pivotal return from California, it captures the glorious late April sunshine on the track leading from Woldgate Woods to the village of Boynton. With loose, impressionistic, brushstrokes, Hockney pays tribute to the unspoiled beauty of his homeland: its lonely paths, wide blue skies and majestic, ancient woodlands, each as bright and vivid as his childhood memories. Described by Marco Livingstone at the time as ‘the most commanding [works] he has ever made’, Hockney’s depictions of the Wolds between 2005 and 2008 marked a major new chapter in his forty-year-long career (M. Livingstone, ‘Home to Bridlington: Routes to a Private Paradise’, in David Hockney: Just Nature, exh. cat., Kunsthalle Würth, 2009, p. 188). The artist had made repeated visits home in the years leading up to his mother’s death in 1999, and was struck by the ever-changing splendour of his native county. Returning in 2004, he began to work outdoors, channelling the influence of Constable, Van Gogh, Monet, Claude and Turner as he captured the shifting light and seasons. Though saturated with the same life-affirming glow as his Californian paintings, these canvases were poignant elegies to home, infused with new passion, grandeur and technical bravura. With its lyrical song of spring, Walnut Trees is a fitting testament to this rebirth.

 

2. Canyons


 

DAVID HOCKNEY
Nichols Canyon III, 2017
Acrylic on canvas (hexagonal)
121.9 x 243.8 cm (48×96 inches)
Christie’s Hong-Kong: 26 May 2022
HKD 94,800,000

DAVID HOCKNEY
Grand Canyon II, 2017
Acrylic on canvas
48×96 inches (121.9 x 243.8 cm)
Sotheby’s New-York: 19 May 2022
USD 11,034,700

A striking panorama and iconic example of David Hockney’s mastery of the American landscape, Grand Canyon II is an all-encompassing example of the artist’s career-long experimentation with perspective. Hockney’s landscapes are one of his most celebrated works and many of his best-known derive from his adoration of the American west as an émigré. From his concentration on photo-collaged compositions as of 1982 to his vibrant interpretations of Hollywood Hills, Hockney has continuously pushed the limitations of artistic perspective through landscape painting throughout the evolution of his many series—the artist’s shaped canvas series represents an artistic breakthrough in this evolution. Through the inspiration of the canon of American landscape painters, particularly Thomas Moran, Hockney’s determination to harness the transcendent experience of the Grand Canyon has installed his Grand Canyon works firmly within that same canon of the greatest depictions of the American landscape from the 20th and 21st centuries.

Grand Canyon II is a career-defining culmination of advances in perspective that David Hockney has challenged throughout the span of his artistic output. Executed in 2017-2018 as the artist’s blockbuster traveling retrospective opened at Centre Pompidou, Paris, the shaped canvas series revisited some of the artist’s most notable subjects including Nichols Canyon, East Yorkshire, and of course—the Grand Canyon. Hockney’s iconic Hollywood Hills landscapes—beginning with Canyon Painting in 1978, when the artist was first settled in his L.A. studio, and followed by Nichols Canyon and Mulholland Drive: The Road to the Studio in 1980—are emblematic of the artist’s rejection of single-point perspective in pursuit of the illusionistic, even dreamlike, depiction of his newly adopted home in California. Hockney’s kaleidoscopic paintings of the sun-washed hills depicted space in a manner not unlike that of ancient friezes—the picture planes receded with faraway, patchworked details stacked towards the horizon line. His Fauve-inspired palette similarly eschewed naturalism for the vibrant vistas to be revisited and reinterpreted for years to follow.

DAVID HOCKNEY
Garrowby Hill
, 2017
Acrylic on canvas
48×96 inches (121,9 x 243.8 cm)
Sotheby’s London: 2 March 2022
GBP 14,093,950

A rolling landscape of sublime vastness, Garrowby Hill illuminates David Hockney’s unique, multi-perspectival approach to painting. Painted in 2017, it is a magnificent return to one of the most celebrated subjects of his oeuvre: the ever-changing East Yorkshire landscape. The composition of the present work is based on Hockney’s beloved 1998 painting of the same name, Garrowby Hill, in the collection of The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: one of the greatest compositions of Hockney’s oeuvre. Indeed, in terms of iconicity Garrowby Hill is comparable to the dramatic pool paintings of the 1960s, the conversation pieces of the 1970s, and the meandering California landscapes of the 1980s and ‘90s. This painting further set the tone for the definitive Yorkshire landcapes of the 2000s and, crucially, inspired Hockney’s striking Grand Canyon panoramas. That Hockney returns to this composition again twenty years later attests to its utmost significance.

 

DAVID HOCKNEY
Small Grand Canyon Study, 1998
Oil on canvas
13.1 x 21.6 inches (33.2 x 55 cm)
Christie’s London: 28 February 2022
GBP 756,000

 

3. Flowers


DAVID HOCKNEY
Sunflower and Three Oranges, 1996
oil on canvas
48×36 inches (121.9 x 91.4 cm)
Sotheby’s New-York: 16 November 2022
Estimated: USD 3,000,000 – 5,000,000
USD 3,801,000

A lyrical treatise on color and form, Sunflowers and Three Oranges from 1996 marks David Hockney’s remarkable return to figurative painting during a pivotal period in his artistic career. Amongst the largest Flower paintings that David Hockney produced during this pivotal year. Sunflowers and Three Oranges is distinguished by its radiant hues and exceptional composition. Debuted in 1997, the present work was notably included in the Annely Juda Fine Art exhibition Flowers, Faces and Spaces, which marked Hockney’s largest exhibition in London since his 1988 Tate retrospective. After a decade-long interlude from studio painting, during which he primarily explored photography, Hockney returned to California with a renewed devotion to portraiture and still-life painting. Following a visit to the Claude Monet retrospective at the Art Institute of Chicago and Johannes Vermeer exhibition in the Mauritshuis, Hockney was inspired by the delicate atmosphere of light engendered by the renowned Impressionist artist and astonished by the enduring virtuosic application of varnish and oil paint by the Dutch master. Following this visit, Hockney returned to his studio with a fervent burst of creative energy to explore his signature stylistic rendering of his surroundings. A dazzling array of rich saffron yellow, burnt oranges and greens,  Sunflowers and Three Oranges is a testament to this vibrant period of production and the artist’s incomparable mastery over the elusive and fundamental elements of painting.

Richly saturated and instantly captivating, Sunflowers and Three Oranges is a vivid celebration of David Hockney’s singular painterly prowess and signature still-life paintings. In keeping with the tradition of classical still life and flower paintings, Hockney prompts meditations on mortality and transience, both within the artist’s own experience of painting flowers and of the deeply personal and profound relationship to time and loss. Hockney had begun painting sunflowers for his friends as get-well cards but turned towards the transiency of flowers in contemplation, and in solace, of the recognition that life can be burgeoning with liveliness while nevertheless evolving and eventually fading. The tender poignancy of the present work coincides with a period of prolonged personal loss and mourning in Hockney’s life during the late eighties and nineties, including the death of the critic and curator Henry Geldzahler, the passing of his close friend Ossie Clark, as well as that of painter Sandra Fisher, close friend and wife of R.B. Kitaj. Sunflowers and Three Oranges is thus suffused with personal meaning and transformation while simultaneously paying homage to the historical and artistic lineage of his predecessors, so many of whom explored flower paintings and still life as an opportunity to render their technical mastery of and emotive reckoning with painting.

 

DAVID HOCKNEY
Two Red Pots, 1987
Acrylic on canvas
91×61 cm (36×24 inches)
Christie’s Hong-Kong: 26 May 2022
HKD 11,850,000

 

DAVID HOCKNEY
Gladioli with Two Oranges, 1996
Oil on canvas
26×32 inches (65.4 x 81.2 cm)az
Sotheby’s London: 29 June 2021
GBP 4,219,500

Gladioli with Two Oranges depicts a sprightly bunch of burgundy flowers bursting from a rounded glass vase, with a rich colour pop of orange from two casually placed pieces of fruit. Rendered in short horizontal brushstrokes of vibrant cerulean, the enigmatic background denies specificity of time, place and scene. Yet though the background remains completely abstracted, the attention given to the geometric planes, tonal gradation, and accompanying shadows beneath the pot restores our mind’s ability to recognise three-dimensionality in direct association with our own experience of receiving such a joyous arrangement. Throughout the picture plane, Hockney’s application of colour forms a remarkably strategic tool to generate depth in an otherwise flattened composition. By adding a touch of dark paint to the respective burgundy, orange, green, and blue hues, Hockney adds depth while keeping his hues consistent. The result is a simplified and pared-down colour palette that offers a purist depiction of the scene. In reducing the colour palette to a limited number of colours and shades, Hockney directs his artistic curiosity and painterly inventiveness towards other variables such as space and form. Here, Hockney dispenses with traditional perspective and flattens the background to emphasise the objecthood of the flower and fruit as the main subjects of the composition. Hockney felt that it was an elemental part of an artist’s practice to be able to render the soft lines and volumes contained in the form of a flower with clarity and authenticity – not necessarily a mimetic type of authenticity, but rather of the kind championed first by the Impressionist painters, where the light and colour of any given moment can differ drastically from the next; where the same object is constantly shifting and changing right in front of us. Hockney realised that in depicting a simple bouquet of flowers, there was an infinite number of ways that he could do so. Gladioli with Two Oranges is therefore more about the process of painting a still-life, than about the record of the object itself.

DAVID HOCKNEY
Blue Pot of Purple Flowers, 1989
Oil on canvas
24×24 inches (61×61 cm)
Sotheby’s New-York: 13 May 2021
USD 2,863,500

Executed in 1989, the same year as David Hockney’s critically acclaimed traveling retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Tate Gallery in London, Blue Pot of Purple Flowers represents the artist’s profound appreciation of and masterful return to the still life genre. While Hockney had long admired and embraced still life painting throughout his career, it was in the mid 1980s that he returned to the genre with renewed vigor and urgency, emphasizing and paying unprecedented attention to painterly texture, modulated tonalities, vibrant color choices, and experimental perspective. Through its simultaneous embrace of flatness and depth, Blue Pot of Purple Flowers portrays Hockney’s fundamental interest in painting objects as close as possible to the way we actually see them—ultimately seen in his unique approach to perspective, which is devoid of any single vantage point, but rather a conglomeration of many continuous viewpoints. In addressing one of the oldest and most storied genres in the history of painting, Hockney harnesses a template on which he can innovate and advance art history from within, ultimately creating his own version of truth and reality as witnessed in the most unexpected, even commonplace of objects. The present work is ultimately a significant encapsulation of Hockney’s personal life and his close bond with the many friends and acquaintances with whom he surrounded himself throughout his lifetime. Beginning in the 1980s, Hockney developed a habit of painting intimate flower still lifes for his friends as get-well cards. Blue Pot of Purple Flowers exists as one such example, revealing an artist who marveled at the gifts of nature and sought to in turn share that sense of joy and beauty with the world around him through his paintings.

4. Very New Paintings


 

DAVID HOCKNEY
The First V.N. Painting
, 1992
Oil on canvas
61×61 cm (24×24 inches)
Sotheby’s London: 2 March 2022
GBP 1,547,500

Bold forms and jubilant colors unwind and coalesce on the surface of The First V.N. Painting, a work that comprises the first example from David Hockney’s seminal series Very New Paintings executed in the artist’s Malibu studio between 1992 and 1993. This concise corpus of work explores and unites the traditions of abstract and landscape painting via rich hues and complex spatial arrangements. The present work is accompanied by only twenty-four other works in the series, and iterations have been included in recent and critically acclaimed retrospectives on Hockney’s work, including the major travelling exhibition David Hockney at Tate Britain, London, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York between February 2017 and February 2018. A number of works from the series reside in the collection of The David Hockney Foundation, such as The Fourth V.N. Painting and The Eleventh V.N. Painting, both executed in 1992, a testament to the series’ importance within the artist’s expansive oeuvre.

While predominantly abstract, the intertwined, textured forms of the present work are reminiscent of the sun-drenched Californian terrain for which Hockney is best known. Hockney himself has discussed the influence of his West Coast surroundings on the compositions of the V.N. Paintings, “Someone said that the Very New Paintings are abstract narratives. Certainly a great deal of thought and feeling have gone into them. For example, here at the beach I am between two great forces, the mountains and the sea. The mountains were made by a great force of nature, a thrusting force, which calmed in time, leaving them here, grand and peaceful. While below the other thrust continues, the endless movement of the sea. These forces are present, I believe, in the paintings” (David Hockney quoted in: Chronology 1937 – Today: 2010, The David Hockney Foundation (online). The vibrant yellow and blue hues on the surface of the present work are indeed reminiscent of the Californian sun, the sky and the ever-pulsating ocean, while the darker highly textured sequences in the lower half of the composition are evocative of mountains or a rocky coastal terrain.

DAVID HOCKNEY
The Fifth V.N. Painting
, 1992
Oil on canvas
24×36 inches (61 x 91.5 cm)
Sotheby’s New-York: 19 November 2021
USD 2,319,000

The Fifth V.N. Painting is an otherworldly early example of David Hockney’s explosively abstract V.N. Paintings of 1992. Together with the other twenty-five works in the series, the present work has been exhibited in New York City, Glasgow, Saltaire, Yorkshire and Venice, California. Iterations have been included in all of the artist’s most important museum retrospectives to date, including those at the Tate and Pompidou in 2017. A number are still held in the artist’s personal collection, a testament to the significance of the series within his body of work. The V.N. Paintings – short for ‘Very New’ – are unlike anything Hockney had previously created. The artist drew upon both his recent landscape paintings of the Santa Monica Mountain and his theatre set designs to explore representation, abstraction, and light. In 1990 and 1991 he worked on the production design for Puccini’s Turandot and Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten, both of which opened in 1992. The opera sets were masterful studies of the effects projected light can have on a surface, fantastical landscapes shifting constantly under the bath of jewel-toned light. The present work evokes the spirit of a drive through Malibu, where Hockney lived at the time, but several times removed: imagine, perhaps, a scenic drive through Mars at dusk.

5. Pools


 

DAVID HOCKNEY
Swimming Pool Ladder, 1967
Colored pencil and graphite on paper
17 x 13.9 inches (43.2 x 35.4 cm)
Christie’s London: 30 June 2022
GBP 233,100

The blue of David Hockney’s Swimming Pool Ladder is a brilliant, luminous blue: the blue of sultry summer evenings, warm breezes, azure skies and indulgent cool waters. It is the blue of Hockney’s swimming pools, the defining image of his oeuvre. Created in 1967, the same year as his iconic A Bigger Splash (Tate, London), the present work forms part of the artist’s almost obsessive exploration of water’s unpredictable ebb and flow. Hockney first became interested in swimming pools after he moved to Los Angeles in 1963: California, with all its glorious sunshine and heady optimism, enchanted the young artist. Growing up surrounded by post-war deprivation made the contrast between England and the United States all the more striking. Working in colored pencil, here Hockney meticulously observes the mercurial effects of light moving across the pool. The resulting work suggests a crystalline vision of the artist’s new home, an infinite boundless hope found in the dance of light upon water and the ever-changing lap of the swimming pool’s surface.

 

DAVID HOCKNEY
POOL ON A CLOUDY DAY WITH RAIN (PAPER POOL 22)
, 1978
Hand colored and pressed paper pulp
183.8 x 216 cm (72.4 x 85 inches)
Sotheby’s London: 28 July 2020
GBP 4,867,800

 

Pool on a Cloudy Day with Rain (Paper Pool 22) is an outstanding iteration of David Hockney’s widely celebrated series, the Paper Pools of 1978. Imbued with the artist’s exquisite rendering of the transient, luminescent and vacillating qualities of light and water, the present work marks a significant shift within Hockney’s oeuvre. Inspired by his friend, artist Kenneth Tyler’s swimming pool in suburban New York, the Paper Pools series is comprised of a limited number of vibrant, unique works that marry Hockney’s most enduring and acclaimed motif with an entirely new artistic technique involving wet paper pulp and vivid coloured dye. Of this series, the present work belongs to a smaller and highly coveted subset of large-scale Paper Pools.

Between August and October 1978 Hockney recorded the impression of sunlight reflecting upon the water of Tyler’s pool amidst various weather conditions and at different times of day. Saturated hues of celestial blue, lavender and forest green pervade the surface of the present work, the overall tonality suggesting brooding clouds on a stormy summer day. Pool on a Cloudy Day with Rain (Paper Pool 22) is a dazzling testament to Hockney’s virtuosity in the medium of colour and form, and his unwavering receptivity to new stimuli: “The sheer bravura of David Hockney’s Paper Pools delights… They are joyous in colour and shape and monumental in scale. Enchanted with the elusive properties of light, Hockney has seized aspects of it, rippling it across and through his works with broad, fearless strokes. Whether in inky darkness or glimmering sunlight, his Pools refresh, please [and] recall the joyousness of Matisse” (J. Butterfield, ‘David Hockney: Blue Hedonistic Pools,’ The Print Collector’s Newsletter, Vol. 10, No. 3, July – August 1979, p. 74).

DAVID HOCKNEY
Gregory in the Pool (Paper Pool 4), 1978
Colored and pressed paper pulp
32×50 inches (81.3 x 127 cm)
Sotheby’s New-York: 6 March 2020
USD 692,000

In 1978, a lost driver’s license caused a stopover in New York in the middle of David Hockney’s move from England to Los Angeles. The artist intended to stay two or three days with an old friend, Kenneth Tyler of the Tyler Graphics studio, at his workshop in upstate New York before continuing to California. Instead, he remained for forty-five days and created his experimental and critically acclaimed Paper Pools series. Gregory in the Pool, an early work from a series of twenty-nine pressed color paper pulp pictures, is an innovative portrait of Hockney’s friend and lover executed during a time of significant transition in the artist’s life. A hybrid of painting and paper-making, the present work is evocative of Hockney’s boundless curiosity, virtuosity of medium, and intimate portrayals of loved ones. Hockney, inspired by the summer sunshine after spending so much time in England, felt it was the first time he had used primary colors. The bright blues, yellows and oranges in Gregory in the Pool, as well as an attention to horizontals and shadow, foreshadow the artistic themes he would explore more fully in Los Angeles in the coming years.

 

6. California Dreaming


 

 

DAVID HOCKNEY
Insurance Bldg L.A, 1966
Crayon, colored pencil and graphite on paper
14×17 inches (35.6 x 43.2 cm)
Sotheby’s New-York: 19 November 2021
USD 2,803,000

An early landmark of David Hockney’s era-defining painted visions of Los Angeles, Insurance BLDG L.A encapsulates the very genesis of his lifelong enchantment with the magnetic allure of Southern California. Revealing the artist’s impression of Los Angeles upon his move from England in 1964, the present work shows Hockney’s reinterpretation of the archetypal, innocuous mid-century architecture of a downtown Los Angeles office building through his forthright and confident skill as a draftsman. In the present work, Hockney reduces an insurance building in downtown L.A. to pure form and aesthetic nonchalance, paring down his representation of the Pacific Mutual Life insurance building through use of cubic linearity most closely associated with the tenets of Modernism.

 

DAVID HOCKNEY
A Neat Lawn, 1967
Acrylic on canvas
96×97 inches (243.2 x 246.4 cm)
Phillips New-York: 23 June 2021
USD 11,000,000

Belonging to a series of monumental canvases painted in 1967, David Hockney’s A Neat Lawn is a seminal example of the artist’s California Dreaming paintings. Here, Hockney presents a Los Angelesian house set against bright blue sky with a perfectly tended lawn nurtured by a sprinkler, the spewing spindrifts offering the only indication of movement in this otherwise static scene. A Neat Lawn demonstrates one of Hockney’s first sustained experimentations on the dynamics of light and water, as exemplified in the strong shadows cast by the eave and across the hedges as well as the glistening blades of grass. Hockney recalled, “for the first time it became an interesting thing for me, light.”i A Neat Lawn was first shown alongside A Bigger Splash and A Lawn Sprinkler in 1968 at the artist’s sensational solo exhibition at Kasmin Gallery, London, a pivotal show that brought him to international acclaim.

 

7. Interiors


DAVID HOCKNEY
The Luxor Hotel, 1978
Colored crayon on paper
14×17 inches (35.6 x 43.1 cm)
Sotheby’s London: 29 June 2021
GBP 511,100

This exquisite and sophisticated colored-crayon rendering of the Old Winter Palace Hotel in Luxor shows David Hockney’s consummate skill as a draughtsman. Hockney is, essentially, an autobiographical artist; throughout his career his work has presented the people closest to him and places of his travels, those that in some way have touched his life. Hockney first travelled to Egypt in 1963 and it made a lasting impression: “It was a marvelous three weeks. I didn’t take a camera, only drawing paper, so I drew everywhere and everything, the Pyramids, modern Egypt, it was terrific. I was very turned on by the place, and on your own you do a lot more work. I carried all my drawings everywhere and a lot of equipment, and I would get up very early in the morning. I loved the café life. Egyptians are very easy-going people, very humorous and pleasant, and I liked them very much. It was a great adventure” (David Hockney quoted in: Christopher Simon Sykes, Hockney: The Biography, Volume 1: 1937-1975, London 2014, p. 135).

 

DAVID HOCKNEY
The Chair, 1985
Oil on canvas
48×36 inches (122×91 cm)
Sotheby’s London: 29 June 2021
GBP 2,435,000

 

Throughout his remarkable career, David Hockney has demonstrated both a profound passion for the great avant-garde traditions of the past and a voraciously creative vision for his own, category-defying artistic practice. Exemplifying this enigmatic balance in his oeuvre, Chair from 1985 powerfully fuses an eloquent tribute to past masters Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin and Pablo Picasso with the striking subversion of traditional perspective that defines many of Hockney’s masterworks. It is a truly exceptional example of the rich color palette, compositional structure, and intimately significant subject matter that characterizes the very best of his output. Widely renowned as Britain’s greatest living painter, Hockney’s remarkable output is predicated upon a unique ability to absorb, execute, and contribute to the greatest avant-garde movements of Twentieth Century while simultaneously defying strict categorization. In its seamless fusion of art historical homage and highly particularized artistic sentiment, Chair encapsulates the indisputable vitality, innovation, and enchanting charm of Hockney’s inimitable painterly oeuvre.

 

 

DAVID HOCKNEY
Ian Watching Television
, 1987
Oil on canvas
36×48 inches (92.1 x 121.9 cm)
Sotheby’s New-York: 12 May 2021
USD 2,077,000

Executed in vibrant shades of red, blue and black, David Hockney’s Ian Watching Television is the artist’s quintessential Cubist portrait, and embodies a pivotal moment in his oeuvre. It was during this time that Hockney – already an internationally celebrated artist—truly mastered his Cubist exploration of portraiture and space, a style he had begun interrogating in earnest in 1980. Having long been fascinated by the Spanish master, the 1980 Pablo Picasso retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York reinvigorated Hockney’s belief that Cubism marked a critical turning point in pictorial representation. Ian Falconer, subject of the present work and both a collaborator and former boyfriend of Hockney’s, who would go on to provide creative direction for opera and theatre productions around the world and create the highly successful Olivia children’s book series, served as a muse and frequent model throughout this explorative period. Each drawing and painting of Falconer brought Hockney closer to the all-encompassing, dynamic, physical effect he sought to bring to his Cubist-style portraits. More than any other portrait he produced in the 1980s, Ian Watching Television achieves Hockney’s radical desire to obliterate the space between viewer and painting through his use of multiple perspectives. Testament to its quality, the painting was included in Hockney’s travelling retrospective in 1988-89, which travelled from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York before ending at the Tate Gallery in London, and entered the prestigious collection of Morris and Rita Pynoos in 1988.