David Hockney - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Thursday, March 3, 2022 | Phillips

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  • 'Whenever I left England, colours got stronger in the pictures. California always affected me with colour. Because of the light you see more colour, people wear more colourful clothes, you notice it, it doesn’t look garish: there is more colour in life here.' —David Hockney

    David Hockney with Ian Falconer, in Los Angeles, c 1978. Image: © Michael Childers/Corbis via Getty Images
    David Hockney with Ian Falconer and David Stoltz, in Los Angeles, c 1978. Image: © Michael Childers/Corbis via Getty Images

    Soaked in a strong, California sunshine and executed in intensely vibrant passages of bright, bold colour, Self-Portrait on the Terrace is an exquisite example of David Hockney’s localised California landscapes, highly unusual in its incorporation of a delicately rendered self-portrait. Painting the areas in and around his Hollywood Hills home after having relocated to this spot on the West Coast in 1978, Hockney took great inspiration from the dramatic, expansive landscapes he discovered on drives through the hills above the city. Amongst the many, truly fantastic paintings of the wide-open vistas and unspooling ribbons of road carved into the hillsides around Los Angeles that Hockney captured in these years, undoubtedly it was the house itself that quickly emerged as a favourite subject, reproduced across a selection of paintings, drawings, and prints from the period.


    In a flamboyant rejoinder to Le Corbusier’s modernist maxim that houses should be designed as ‘machines for living in’, Hockney transformed his Californian ranch-style home into a lively theatrical set to stage life’s dramas within. Unfolding in a succession of rooms decorated in dazzling shades of electric blues, warm yellows, and hot pinks, Hockney succeeded, as he put it, in ‘slowly […] making my own environment – room by room – as artist’s do.’ A clear inheritor to Henri Matisse’s strong sympathy for bold, unmodulated colour and vibrantly realised domestic interiors, Hockney’s house and the paintings that he made there are in constant dialogue. Directly borrowing the rich, Fauvist palette that he had recently used to realise the set designs for a reimagining of Erik Satie’s ballet Parade, the connections that Self-Portrait on the Terrace draws between painterly experiment, spatial form, and immersive environment are striking, ‘the house being perhaps the closest analogue to the theatre, a real space in which to fashion an ideal world.’i

    'The idea of drawing water is always appealing to me. You can look at it, through it, into it. See it as volume, see it as surface. You can’t do that with a floor or a wall.'
    —David Hockney

    David Hockney’s house on the West Coast, c 1983. Image: Mary E. Nichols, Architectural Digest, © Condé Nast
    David Hockney’s house on the West Coast, c 1983. Image: Mary E. Nichols, Architectural Digest, © Condé Nast

    Looking out from the second-story terrace, fitted with the cobalt blue decking that is wonderfully rendered here, Hockney shows remarkable skill in combining multiple perspectives within the composition, sharply tilting the garden scene beyond the titular terrace so we are at once looking out and directly down onto the circular pool that has become, more than any other motif, a visual shorthand for Hockney himself.


    Occupying a truly iconic place in the artist’s oeuvre and dominating his production through the 1960s and 70s, examples of Hockney’s pools are undoubtably amongst the artist’s most recognisable and beloved works. Coming to epitomise an idea of 70s ‘California Cool’, Hockney returned to the motif across a huge variety of media including acrylics, watercolour, photography, and his ground-breaking Paper Pools series, which he commenced in 1978.


    Hockney has spoken frequently and eloquently on the subject of water’s appeal for him, and how fascinating he finds it as a formal problem. Having established his memorable use of short, rhythmically intersecting blue curves as a means of rendering the visual effects of clear water pictorially, Hockney adopted this signature detail on the bottom of his own pool in a playful instance of life imitating art.


    Picture Perfect

    'I believe that the problem of how to depict something is […] and interesting on 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 HockneyIn 1983, just a year before Self-Portrait on the Terrace was painted, Hockney made a trip back to London from his adopted home in California. His visit coincided with the first major Cubist exhibition held in London, The Essential Cubism: Braque, Picasso and Their Friends, 1907 – 1920 organised by Tate director Alan Bowness and curated by Douglas Cooper and Gary Tinterow. A major event, the exhibition presented the visual history of Cubism together for the first time, and would have a profound impact on Hockney, allowing him to ground some of the more experimental approaches to spatial organisation and temporality already being explored with the set designs for Parade and elsewhere across his practice. With palpable enthusiasm, Hockney reported visiting the show seven times, so energised by the pioneering challenges to established modes of representation and ways of seeing made by these early 20th century pioneers. As he said in one audio interview, he felt that ‘Cubism is about another way of seeing the world, a truer way’, allowing for a kind of slow looking that would lean more heavily into the nature of perception itself.


    Pablo Picasso, Les femmes d'Alger (Version 'O'), 1955, Private Collection. Image: Bridgeman Images, Artwork: © Succession Picasso / DACS, London 2022 
Pablo Picasso, Les femmes d'Alger (Version 'O'), 1955, © Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2022 / Bridgeman Images
    Pablo Picasso, Les femmes d'Alger (Version 'O'), 1955, Private Collection. Image: Bridgeman Images, Artwork: © Succession Picasso / DACS, London 2022

    Although falling beyond the scope of the Tate exhibition, Pablo Picasso’s 1955 Les femmes d'Algers series makes a striking comparison to the present work, identifying the ways in which Hockney addressed questions of spatial composition directly to his Cubist forbears. Just as Picasso’s series was at once a nod to Old Masters and a tender homage to his friend and rival Henri Matisse, so too does Hockney combine key stylistic features of these two towering figures of the early 20th century avant-garde, riotous Fauve colour and Cubist modelling perfectly balanced in his composition here.


    In its radically flattened presentation of multiple perspectives, and in the forceful intensity of its palette, Self-Portrait on the Terrace affectionately references key compositional elements of these iconic works, right down to the tight circularity of its composition and the knowing nod to Picasso’s use of heavy line repeated in the intersecting lines of Hockney’s blue decking here.


    Most importantly, in Cubism’s dissection of volumetric form and radical attempts to represent multiple perspectives simultaneously, Hockney found a means to expand his own thinking about temporality in painting, a polaroid camera proving to be a surprisingly useful tool as he started to work through some of these pictorial problems.


    What David Hockney’s Brilliant Collages Reveal About Photos

    It was only in the 1980s though, as Hockney was preparing for his major presentation of his more conventional photographs at the Musée Nationale d’Art Moderne– Centre Pompidou in Paris that he began to consider the possibilities of moving beyond the single photographic image. As Hockney explains, taking pictures from different viewpoints and then recombining them into a larger photocollages, he realised that the fractured photographic image made time visible in startling ways. This, coupled with the ‘collage aesthetic’ of the Parade project led directly to the striking compositional features handled with such assurance in Self-Portrait on the Terrace.


    Using this approach to take photographs of the house, the artist discovered a pictorial language that he hadn’t considered before, combining three different viewpoints to create a strikingly Cubist approach to perspectival simultaneity so confidently evoked in the present work. Restlessly innovative, Hockney has more recently extended this photocollage practice into video, his multi-screen installation The Four Seasons, Woldgate Wood using 9 cameras mounted on a jeep to capture ‘a much more fluid perspective, and of course a wider time frame, making it possible to see more of where we have been and where we are going.”ii


    What is especially distinctive in Hockney’s painting though is his departure from the solid fractured planes of Picasso’s reclining nude in favour of a very different approach to the question of simultaneity. Visually recalling the so-called ‘Transparencies’ that Francis Picabia developed in the 1920s, Hockney here finds an innovative way to transfer his examination of pictorial time onto the human figure. Tellingly, Picabia’s term is itself rooted in a language of photography and film and proves remarkably effective here in aiding Hockney in ‘trying to create a painting where the viewer’s eye could be made to move in certain ways, to stop in certain places, move on, and in so doing reconstruct the space across time for itself.’iii


167293_FIG 4.jpg 
CAPTION: Francis Picabia, Mimos, 1929, Moderna Museet, Stockholm. Image: Album / Scala, Florence, Artwork: © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2022
CAPTION: Detail of the present work
    Left: Francis Picabia, Mimos, 1929, Moderna Museet, Stockholm. Image: Album / Scala, Florence, Artwork: © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2022
    Right: Detail of the present work

    Still proudly carrying his broad West Yorkshire accent, David Hockney is the quintessential British artist, and yet his painting has become synonymous with scenes of a laidback, Californian lifestyle. Bridging these two worlds, Self-Portrait on the Terrace is a stunning expression of the artist’s curiosity and verve, and his phenomenal skill as a colourist. Presented shortly after its execution in an exhibition of new works with André Emmerich Gallery, Self-Portrait on the Terrace was also included in the career-defining 1988 – 1989 travelling exhibition David Hockney: A Retrospective.


    A cherished work from the esteemed collection of Rita and Morry Pynoos, Self-Portrait on the Terrace also testifies to the deep personal friendship that the couple developed with Hockney over the years. More than collectors, the Pynooses were deeply passionate about art, and about sharing their lives with the artists they met over the years. Acquiring the work almost immediately after its execution, Self-Portrait on the Terrace stayed with the Pynooses for nearly 40 years, a fitting home for this rare moment of quiet introspection by the artist, and a vision of Californian life that he shared with them.


    i Kenneth E. Silver, ‘Hockney on the Stage’, in (exh. cat.), David Hockney, A Retrospective, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Metroplitan Museum of Art, and Tate Gallery, Los Angeles, 1988, p. 72. 
    ii David Hockney, quoted in Constance W. Glenn, ‘Artist David Hockney’s House on the West Coast’, Architectural Digest, 1 April 1983, online.
    iii David Hockney, in ‘Chronology’, The David Hockney Foundation, online

    • Provenance

      André Emmerich Gallery, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner in October 1984

    • Exhibited

      New York, André Emmerich Gallery, Inc., David Hockney. New Work. Paintings, Gouaches, Drawings, Photo Collages, 13 October - 3 November 1984 (illustrated, n.p.)
      Los Angeles County Museum of Art; New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art; London, The Tate Gallery, David Hockney: A Retrospective, 4 February 1988 - 3 January 1989, fig. 13, pp. 72, 256 (illustrated, p. 73)

    • Literature

      Peter Webb, Portrait of Hockney, New York, 1988, no. 158, pp. 221, 224, 230, 253 (illustrated, p. 253)
      Henry Geldzahler, ‘Hockney at Home’, House & Garden, March 1988, p. 157 (detail illustrated)
      Paul Melia and Ulrich Luckhardt, eds., David Hockney: Paintings, Munich, 2012, fig. 71, p. 96 (illustrated)
      Hans Werner Holzwarth and David Hockney, eds., David Hockney: A Bigger Book, Cologne, 2016, pp. 178-179 (illustrated)

    • Artist Biography

      David Hockney

      David Hockney (b. 1937) is one of the most well-known and celebrated artists of the
      20th and 21st centuries. He works across many mediums, including painting, collage,
      and more recently digitally, by creating print series on iPads. His works show semi-
      abstract representations of domestic life, human relationships, floral, fauna, and the
      changing of seasons.

      Hockney has exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Royal
      Academy of Arts in London, and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, among many
      other institutions. On the secondary market, his work has sold for more than $90

      View More Works

Property from The Collection of Morris and Rita Pynoos


Self-Portrait on the Terrace

signed, titled and dated 'Self portrait on the terrace Jan Feb March 1984 David Hockney' on the reverse
oil on canvas, in 2 parts
each 213.4 x 152.4 cm (84 x 60 in.)
overall 213.4 x 304.8 cm (84 x 120 in.)

Painted in 1984.

Full Cataloguing

£4,000,000 - 6,000,000 ‡♠

Sold for £4,862,500

Contact Specialist

Rosanna Widén
Senior Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4060

Olivia Thornton
Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Europe
+ 44 20 7318 4099

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 3 March 2022