David Hockney - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale Hong Kong Wednesday, June 22, 2022 | Phillips

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  • Introduction

     

    A lyrical fusion of geometric Cubism, Surrealist abstraction and still life, Painted Landscape (Or Red and Blue Landscape) showcases British artist David Hockney’s unparalleled ability in creating an utterly intriguing composition. Containing a dazzling variety of brushstrokes – from long blended marks to short, staccato touches – Hockney represented each area of the image, from the curtains and flooring to the figure and the seascape, with a distinctly different handling of the brush, creating an overall surface effect of pulsating cross-rhythms.

     

    Bearing witness to the artist’s early travels across the Atlantic, the current work was painted right before he travelled to London for his solo exhibition with Kasmin Ltd.; the exhibition was titled Pictures with Frames and Still Life Pictures, and included ten paintings Hockney made in 1965.

     

    As the artist embarked on these journeys filled with gleaming sunlight and rippling seas, he was prompted to create works inspired by the delicate play of flickering light upon the ever-changing surfaces of water:

     

    “[...] I felt challenged by all that water and the clouds. Crossing the Atlantic by aeroplane, the view appears like a white bubbly sea, just as monotonous but a different colour. [...] At the same time I painted two theatrical pictures: A Painted Landscape (or Red and Blue Landscape) and A Theatrical Landscape.”
    — David Hockney

     

    Demonstrating his deep appreciation for art historical influences, Hockney pushes the boundaries of painting through his unique vision. In the current example, hues of vermilion and cerulean blue create impressions of floating clouds and serene waters under a splendid sunset. In stark contrast, the emerald curtains on both sides are meticulously rendered, acting as the focal point of the composition as its opacity stands out from the thinly veiled washes of colour beyond the window. In the foreground, sprinkles of geometric lines evoke abstract elements from painters such as Kenneth Noland and Pablo Picasso; whilst the use of colour and subject matter recalls works by Henri Matisse.

     

     

    1960s Abstraction

     

    “In the 1960s the subject had been completely played down; abstraction had begun to dominate everything, and people firmly believed that this was the way painting had to go. There was no way out, people thought. Even I felt that, and I still felt it even when I began to reject it in action; in theory I still couldn't reject it at all.”
    — David Hockney

     

    During this watershed period in his career in the 60s, Hockney explored extensively with a myriad of artistic influences, absorbing elements from disparate aesthetics of Minimalism, Modernist Abstraction or even Pop art to arrive at cohesive and harmonious compositions. His contemporaries, artists Kenneth Noland and Frank Stella were both under the umbrella of Kasmin Gallery at the time, influencing his desire for exploration. The current work, created when the artist was only 28 years old, is an early example of Hockney’s objective in engaging in dialogues with other artists through layers of complex imagery.

     

     

     

     
    Kennth Noland, Dawn-Dusk, 1968
    Sold by Phillips, New York, 8 December 2020 for USD195,300 (Premium)
    © The Paige Rense Noland Marital Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
     

    As Hockney has further elaborated: ‘The “artistic devices” are images and elements of my own and other artists’ work and ideas of the time… All the paintings were, in a way, influenced by American abstractionists, particularly Kenneth Noland, whom I’d got to know through Kasmin who was showing him. I was trying to take note of these paintings… they’re all done the same way as Kenneth Noland’s, stained acrylic paint on raw cotton duck, and things like that.’ i After seeing Pablo Picasso’s exhibition at the Tate Gallery in 1960, works such as Still Life with Head of a Bull and its Cubism model also became crucial for Hockney ii.

     

     

     
    Left: The current lot  

    Right: Pablo Picasso, Still Life with Head of a Bull, 1958
    © 2022 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

     

    Ever-evolving Perspectives

     

    “I believe that the problem of how to depict something is […] an interesting and a permanent one; there’s no solution to it. There are a thousand and one ways you can go about it. There’s no set rule.”
    — David Hockney

     

    Painted in 1965, the current work is an early example of the artist’s ever-evolving inquisition into the conventions of perspective in painting. Highly self-aware, Hockney’s paintings are explorations of the nuanced relations between the viewer, painter and the painting itself. Throughout his career, many of Hockney’s works demonstrate this intention, highlighting the assumptions of the viewer when gazing upon a painting.

     

    Created right around the same year as the current work, both Play Within a Play (1963) and Portrait Surrounded by Artistic Devices (1965) demonstrate Hockney’s endeavour in exploring with optical illusions and different mediums, whilst juxtaposing minimalism with figurative elements in his work.

     

     

     
    Left: Play Within a Play, 1963
    © David Hockney

    Right: Portrait Surrounded by Artistic Devices, 1965
    Collection of the Arts Council, Southbank Centre, London
    © David Hockney 

     

    In Play Within a Play (1963), John Kasmin, Hockney’s gallerist at the time is shown pressing himself against the door of his gallery. Hockney plays with the illusions of reality and painting – while Kasmin and the backdrop are painted directly on the canvas, the points where his body touches the glass are made with paint on a ‘glass’ panel mounted on the painting.

     

    In Portrait Surrounded by Artistic Devices (1965), which was created the same year as the current work, curtains also appear as a motif. The arrangement of the figure and objects are akin to a stage set, and comparable to the placement of fruits and vases in a still-life painting, which simultaneously subverts the traditional genre. A frame is also added within the painting, giving the work another layer of meaning that prompts the viewer to reconsider where reality lies.

     

     

     

     
    Self-Portrait on the Terrace, 1984
    Sold by Phillips London, 3 March 2022, for £4,862,500 (Premium)
    © David Hockney 

     

    Both these paintings and Painted Landscape (Or Red and Blue Landscape) bridges earlier works within the artist’s oeuvre with later paintings such as Self-Portrait on the Terrace (1984), which is characterised by a more vibrant colour palette and sharp black outlines that Hockney is renowned for. Combining three disparate viewpoints into one wide angle shot, Self-Portrait on the Terrace depicts a strikingly Cubist approach in its composition. Hockney sharply tilted the garden scene beyond the terrace, so we are at once looking out and directly down onto the circular pool, transforming his Californian ranch-style home into a lively theatrical set.

     

     

    Intimate Theatres

     

    “I’d become interested in the still life or the arrangements of still life. The idea grew from the curtain motif of previous pictures. The reasoning went something like this: curtains are associated with theatricality; visually the theatre is an arrangement of still life.”
    — David Hockney

     

    Defining the current work as a ‘theatrical picture’ iii himself, Hockney has had a long-standing preoccupation with theatre and stage-set design, which is also demonstrated in aforementioned works such as Play Within a Play (1963) and Portrait Surrounded by Artistic Devices (1965), where the use of curtains and frames evokes a stage-like arrangement and a sense of theatricality.

     

    Similar to Hockney, artists such as Shara Hughes also employ a theatrical compositional approach, where the viewer is positioned in front of the canvas that acts as a window frame, looking on. Hughes’ Pleasure House  (Lot 6), initially part of an installation piece that can only be viewed one person at a time, is a deeply intimate and participatory work. In Pleasure House, Hughes incorporates wooden partitions similar to stage props, constructing a forest of sculptural layers that culminates into a paradisiacal garden.

     

    In the 1970s, Hockney became actively involved in theatrical productions such as The Rake’s Progress and The Magic Flute, which informs the increasingly flattened perspective in his representation, traces of which can be seen in Painted Landscape (Or Red and Blue Landscape). In the current work, Hockney blurs the distinction between foreground and background with overlapping ambiguous geometric forms. The canvas surrounding the curtains are left in its natural state, creating an ambiguous blank space that can be interpreted as extending indefinitely beyond the edges of the frame. Consequently, the white figure is positioned as a surrogate for the viewer in front of the painting, perpetrating the illusion of depth whilst being aware of its physical properties as paint on a canvas.

     

     

    Theatrical Works by Hockney in Public Collections

  • Collector’s Digest

     

    Born 1937 in Yorkshire, United Kingdom, David Hockney is one of the most influential and widely recognised artists of our time. An important contributor to the pop art movement of the 1960s, Hockney is also a stage designer and photographer. Hockney travels between his residences and studios in Bridlington and London, as well as California.

     

    In 2022, the artist has several ongoing and upcoming solo exhibitions, including David Hockney: People, Places & Things at the Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis, 18 December 2021 - 15 September 2022; David Hockney: INSIGHTS at Art Forum Vienna, 10 February - 19 June 2022; Hockney’s Eye: The Art and Technology of Depiction, at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 15 March - 29 August 2022 (which will travel to the Teylers Museum, Haarlem, Netherlands, 23 September 2022 - 29 January 2023); David Hockney – Landscapes in Dialogue at the Staatliche Museen Berlin, 9 April - 10 July 2022; and David Hockney Love Life: Drawings 1963 to 1977, The Holburne Museum, Bath, 27 May - 18 September 2022.

     

    Upcoming exhibitions include: Hockney - Matisse. Un paradis retrouvé, Musée Matisse, Nice, 9 June 2022 - 18 September 2022; and David Hockney Moving Focus, Kunstmuseum Lucerne, 9 July - 30 October 2022.

     

     

    i David Hockney, quoted in Christopher Simon Sykes, Hockney: The Biography. Volume I. 1937-1975, London, 2011, p. 43

    ii The David Hockney Foundation, Chronology: 1960, online

    iii David Hockney, quoted in Nikos Stangos, ed., David Hockney by David Hockney, New York, 1976, p. 102

    • Provenance

      Kasmin Ltd., London (acquired directly from the artist in 1965)
      Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris
      Private Collection, Belgium (acquired from the above in 1969)
      Christie’s, London, 21 June 2007, lot 371
      Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      London, Kasmin Ltd., 118 Show, August – September 1965

    • Literature

      Nikos Stangos, ed., David Hockney by David Hockney, New York, 1976, no. 132, pp. 102, 300 (illustrated, p. 119)

Property of a Distinguished Private Collector

12

Painted Landscape (Or Red and Blue Landscape)

acrylic on canvas
152.2 x 151.1 cm. (59 7/8 x 59 1/2 in.)
Painted in 1965.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
HK$16,000,000 - 24,000,000 
€1,940,000-2,910,000
$2,050,000-3,080,000

Contact Specialist

Charlotte Raybaud
Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+852 2318 2026
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 22 June 2022