A record-breaking Hockney hit the night auction on November 15th at Christie’s …!

The famous English artist, recognized and loved by his approach in the early ’60s to pop art, though with expressionist suspicion, hit the entire planet with a creative versatility without limits, witness the openness and total confidence in each artistic technique of the figurative arts. In the last decade, in fact, its panorama has expanded towards digital productions, resulting in a series of works created with iPhone and iPad; the technological progress in his vision is in fact propaedeutic to the becoming of the artistic one, with his words:

“Technology has always changed the meaning of images and images are power. If art excludes images, it loses all possibility. I’ve started to paint with the iPhone first, then in 2010 I immediately got the iPad in California. In England no one yet had it. Making a painting with Brushes app with the iPad takes me one hour long. You do not need anything else: you always have all the colors with you, the result is different from ‘real’ painting, but one thing does not exclude the other” and “Technology has always contributed to art, the brush itself  is a piece of technology, isn’t it? “.

David Hockney photographed in his Hollywood Hills studio on December 8, 2015, source: artnews.com

Hockney’s whole tension towards the sensitive experience of reality makes him a total explorer, who, thanks to the fast development of the flow of currents and trends from 1960 to today, unties from temporal and technological coordinates in favor of a  radiant and immediate freedom.

The special case of the 1972 monumental painting “Portrait of an artist”, perhaps his most iconic and representative artwork, was born from the famous series of the Californian swimming pools; the composition comes from the overlapping of two distinct photographs and immediately became a starting point for a painting where two figures of men face each other from two opposing statuses.

The first version of this work would be destroyed by the same artist. The second one, which is the one we can admire today, is the result of 18 uninterrupted hours a day for a two weeks long work, a version that sees as the protagonist and model the ex partner of the artist, Peter Schlesinger.

David Hockney, Portrait of an artist (Pool with two figures), 1972, oil on canvas

Hockney recalls the painting of this canvas as a splendid, extraordinarily intense experience; the refinement and attention with which he treats every facet of the artwork is palpable, in particular in the representation of water and its transparency, a challenge to which Hockney dedicates himself with extreme commitment.

In short, an intense work of art at every level, exhibited in all the major contemporary art museums of the world (from the Metropolitan, to the Tate, to the Pompidou) and absolutely the most awaited in Christie’s auction.

The lot number 9 in fact started from a price of “only” 18 million dollars, offered ‘without reserve’, which means without minimum price under which the seller does not intend to proceed with the sale; unusual choice for a piece of this value, but that turned out to be a winning move considering that in about ten minutes of febrile raises, the price closed at 90.3 million dollars, beating the record price for a living artist reached in 2013 by Jeff Koons with his sculpture Baloon Dog (Orange) awarded for $ 58.4 million in the same auction house.

The maximum price reached by a Hockey painting before was $ 28.5 million for “Pacific Coast Highway and Santa Monica”, auctioned by Sotheby’s in May this year.

David Hockney, Pacific Coast Highway and Santa Monica, 1990, oil on canvas

A good bet then, as well as for Christie’s, for the seller, the British billionaire Joe Lewis, already known for its operations on the currency market … but, above all, a confirmation of the exponential attention that is involving all Hockney’s work.




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