David Hockney - Disruptors: Evening Sale of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Design and Watches Hong Kong Thursday, May 25, 2023 | Phillips

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  • “Depend upon it, the love of nature is deeply implanted in man: at least the pursuit of it is almost a certain road to happiness.”
    — John Constable, 26 April 1826


    David Hockney is one of the most influential and widely recognised artists of our time, whose vibrant, bold, innovative art has enchanted audiences for over half a century. Conceived in 2011 in anticipation of the artist’s landmark 2012 retrospective, A Bigger Pictureat the Royal Academy in London (which then travelled to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, and Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany), the present work comprises part of a series of 61 iPad drawings where Hockney chronicles the atmospheric changes from winter to spring in the East Yorkshire landscape by his late-mother’s Bridlington home. Alongside other pieces demonstrating the crucial role landscape has played throughout the artist’s oeuvre, Hockney’s iPad compositions were printed on a large scale and presented as a grand narrative cycle throughout one of the exhibition galleries. 


    Over the course of his career, Hockney has pushed through the boundaries of what fine art is through his experimentations across a wide array of mediums. He first embraced digital art in 2007, when he began making work directly on his iPhone in rapidly executed yet strikingly detailed compositions. Maintaining the immediacy of drawing while allowing for a new elevation of precision and freedom in its graphic quality, these works became increasingly dynamic with the introduction of the iPad into his practice following its launch by Apple in 2010. Hockney’s pioneering use of the tablet has since radically redefined his creative approach and has been the focus of numerous exhibitions in recent years, including at the Royal Academy of Arts in London (2021) and Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris (2021-2022). 


    When [nature] is at its height it looks as though champagne has been poured over the bushes and it is all foaming up and it looks marvelous.
    David Hockney


    Rendered in ebullient hues of predominantly green, brown, and daffodil-yellow, The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven) - 4 May showcases Hockney’s technical mastery whilst also highlights the connections between the artist’s landscapes and their art historical precedents. The repetitive nature of his observations immediately recalls the Impressionist master Claude Monet’s meditations on light and atmosphere, such as his Haystacks series (1890-1891) of harvested wheat piles depicted in fluctuating light throughout the season. At the same time, similar to the Impressionists painting over light or white canvas grounds to brighten hues, the iPad’s built-in backlighting automatically infuses Hockney’s compositions with enhanced luminosity. 



    Left: Claude Monet, Stacks of Wheat (End of Summer), 1890/91
    Collection of the Art Institute of Chicago
    Image: Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Arthur M. Wood, Sr. in memory of Pauline Palmer Wood

    Right: Claude Monet, Wheatstacks, Snow Effect, Morning, 1891
    Collection of the  J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
    Image: Courtesy of Getty's Open Content Program


    Juxtaposing the work’s flat finish are the layers of shading and dots that channel the meticulous hand of Georges Seurat’s pioneering pointillism. Aided by technology, however, Hockney applies his vast knowledge of traditional painting techniques on a miniscule scale. He thereby achieves a degree of detail and painterliness that is equally impactful as his oil and acrylic pieces, as attested by critics who praise ‘how energetically [the iPad drawings] manage to achieve texture in their depthless surfaces’. i



    Vincent van Gogh, The White Orchard, 1888
    Collection of the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)
    Image: akg-images


    Favourable comparisons can also be drawn to the emotive expressivity of Vincent van Gogh’s spring canvases, whose work was brought into direct dialogue with Hockney’s for the 2019 exhibitionHockney – Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature. Both inspired by their shared love of nature, Hockney’s iPad drawings embrace digital innovation to revitalise the most traditional of subjects, immersing viewers into a symphony of texture and colour undeniably influenced by the Dutch master, as beautifully captured in The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven) - 4 May.



    Collector’s Digest


    • Continuing to break records at auction and the focus of several, major retrospectives in recent years, David Hockney is undoubtably one of the most important British artists working today.

    • The Arrival of Spring series was one of Hockney’s earliest forays into iPad drawing.

    • This sale marks the first time this iPad drawing from the series has been offered before at auction.

    • Since his inclusion in the seminal 1961 Young Contemporaries exhibition held at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, Hockney has continued to exhibit widely. Recent solo shows include an immersive exhibition at Lightroom at King’s Cross, London (January – April 2023); a presentation of iPad works at L.A. Louver in Los Angeles (November 2022 – January 2023); Teylers Museum in the Netherlands (September 2022 – January 2023); Bayeux Tapestry Museum in France (September 2022 – April 2023); and at the Art Institute of Chicago (Aug 2022 – Jan 2023).



    i Matthew Sperling, ‘Nature boys – Hockney and Van Gogh in Amsterdam’, Apollo Magazine, 7 March 2019, online

    • Provenance

      Galerie Lelong, Paris
      Private Collection
      Phillips, Hong Kong, 26 November 2018, lot 1
      Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      London, Royal Academy of Arts, David Hockney A Bigger Picture, 21 January — 9 April 2012, no. 119.36, p. 236 (another example exhibited and illustrated)
      Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, David Hockney A Bigger Exhibition, 26 October 2013 – 20 January 2014, no. 177, p. 219 (another example exhibited and illustrated, p. 151)
      New York, Pace Gallery (p. 67); Beijing, Pace Gallery, David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, 5 September – 6 June 2015 (another example exhibited)
      Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria, David Hockney: Current, 11 November 2016 - 13 March 2017, p. 143 (another example exhibited and illustrated, p. 130)


The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven) - 4 May

signed, numbered and dated '17/25 David Hockney 2011' lower margin
iPad drawing in colours printed on wove paper with full margins
image 127 x 95.5 cm. (50 x 37 5/8 in.)
sheet 140 x 106 cm. (55 1/8 x 41 3/4 in.)

Published by the artist in 2011, this work is number 17 from an edition of 25.

Full Cataloguing

HK$680,000 - 850,000 

Sold for HK$1,079,500

Contact Specialist

Anastasia Salnikoff
Head of Mid-Season Sales
+852 2318 2014

Thomas Perazzi
Head of Watches, Asia
+852 2318 2031

Disruptors: Evening Sale of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Design and Watches

Hong Kong Auction 25 May 2023