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

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  • 'I just happen to be an artist who uses the iPad, I’m not an iPad artist. It’s just a medium. But I am aware of the revolutionary aspects of it, and its implications.'
    —David Hockney 
    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.’i


    Completed alongside a series of more traditional oil paintings and watercolours, the multi-panel The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven) - 4 May was first unveiled as part of the Royal Academy of Arts’ sensational 2012 survey exhibition David Hockney: A Bigger Picture. Alongside one monumental oil painting arranged across 32 canvases, Hockney recorded the seasonal transition into spring in a series of fifty-one iPad drawings executed between January and June of that year, which were then printed on a large scale and arranged as a grand narrative cycle throughout one of the galleries of the exhibition. Bringing his paintings and iPad drawings together for the first time, the series announced the artist’s reinvention of this classical subject with his pioneering use of cutting-edge 21st century digital technologies.


     David Hockney draws on his iPad in the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art café ahead of his 2011 exhibition Me Draw on iPad 


    Digital Painting

    'I know a lot about drawings and paintings, I’ve spent sixty years doing them. But this is new because of the layers, and because you can go back to them. You can’t do that on paper or canvas.'
    —David Hockney 
    Born in West Yorkshire in 1937, David Hockney rose to prominence as part of a generation of pioneering British Pop artists in the 1960s. Relocating to sun-soaked Los Angeles in 1964, where his prodigious output included his iconic images of swimming pools and snatches of Californian life, Hockney later experimented with polaroid cameras and photography, fax machines, and early computer programs, entering into a playful exploration of the relationship between a tradition of landscape painting and technology that would be most fully realised on his return to Britain in the early 2000s.

    Always open to the exciting possibilities that advancements in technology could introduce into his practice once the ‘software could finally follow the hand’, Hockney began experimenting with digital art in 2007, starting by making work directly on his iPhone in rapidly executed and strikingly dynamic compositions.ii Maintaining the sensation and immediacy of drawing, while allowing for a new kind of precision and freedom in its graphic quality, these works became increasingly complex and detailed with the introduction of the iPad into his practice in 2010.

    Speaking directly about his approach to this new medium, Hockney explains: ‘The app I used in 2011 was called Brushes. It was a new medium and I enjoyed finding out about it. I tried a few other apps but settled on Brushes as being the best for me. It was quite simple, as all the brushes were labelled with a mark, just a mark, no names, so you didn’t have an oil painting brush or a watercolour brush, just the mark it made on the canvas.’iii  Allowing Hockney to work quickly with an intensely saturated palette, fluid sense of line, and wide variety of paint effects, the medium complimented the immersive approach to his subject taken by the artist, leading him to develop ‘a kind of Pointillist stippling and more discriminating grading’ across this cycle of works that highlights the close connections between Hockney’s landscapes and their art historical precedents.iv


    Vincent van Gogh,De roze perzikboom (The Pink Peach Tree), 1888, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam. Image: Bridgeman Images

    Building up layers of colour in strong, confident marks, Hockney’s spring landscapes capture the vitality and immediacy of Fauve painters André Derain and Maurice Vlaminck, and the emotional expressivity and technical virtuosity of Vincent van Gogh’s spring canvases. Brought into direct dialogue with the Dutch master in the 2019 exhibition Hockney – Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature, Hockney’s powerful command of colour across these late landscapes was particularly highlighted, an intensity that is carefully maintained across the iPad drawings. Despite the digital method of its execution, the versatility and drama of Hockney’s iPad drawings have not been lost on critics, who have remarked especially on the elegance and variety of his mark-making, and ‘how energetically they manage to achieve texture in their depthless surfaces.’v


    Hockney, Monet, and the Unfolding of Spring
    'The green of the spiring is a luscious fresh green that’s gone by about June really, but April and May have this very, very fresh green, and you need a few greens, you’ve got to use a few greens. It’s a difficult colour but we can see more greens than any other colour.'
    —David Hockney 

    In its scope and scale, Hockney’s seasonal cycle of course recalls the close observation of the landscape and the almost imperceptible shifts in light and atmosphere recorded by Impressionist master Claude Monet. Certainly, Monet’s approach to serial imagery and his forensic examination of the landscape around him in all variety of weathers directly informed Hockney’s immersive approach to his subject and his thinking around The Arrival of Spring, Woldgate Woods, twenty eleven works. Working en plein air in the Impressionist tradition, Hockney was able to work quickly and precisely in the countryside that he had known from childhood, blending the sensorial experience of his total immersion in nature with a profoundly emotional one.


    Claude Monet, Printemps (Springtime), 1886, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Image: © Fitzwilliam Museum / Bridgeman Images

    A definitive visual record of the English countryside, Hockney’s reflections on the passing of time and the sequence of seasonal change are at once deeply personal and strikingly impassive – the seasons will continue to change, even if we aren’t here to see them. Much like his Impressionist predecessor, Hockney realised that this classical subject could not be represented in a single painting but demanded the context of a larger narrative cycle. He explains: ‘I realised to show the full arrival of spring, you have to start in the winter and go into the summer a bit, and then you see all the differences and all the rich things that happen to each tree.’vi Fittingly, Hockney has more recently returned to this theme in an exhibition consisting entirely of iPad drawings David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring in Normandy, 2021, and expanded it into a full seasonal cycle – David Hockney: A Year in Normandy presented at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris in a lyrical echo of Monet’s majestic Nymphéas

    Executed in the first week of May, in what Hockney affectionately terms ‘Action Week’, the present work captures this proliferation of growth as touches of white, streaks of yellow, and subtle modulations of green animate the foreground between the dancing heads of the blue lianas scattered across the sun-dappled undergrowth of Woldgate Woods. Referring directly to Monet’s Impressionistic brushwork, starkly rendered branches stretch themselves out under the blue sky, filling before our eyes with the gauzy explosions of Hawthorn blossom across them. Approaching this new medium with an enthusiasm and energy that belies his eighty years, Hockney has reinvented himself as a great landscape painter, inserting himself in a long line of artists for whom technological innovation has opened radical new ways of approaching this most traditional of subjects.


    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. 

    •    Since his inclusion in the seminal 1961 Young Contemporaries exhibition held at the Whitechapel Art Gallery Hockney has continued to exhibit widely. Recent notable exhibitions include the major career survey hosted by Tate Britain, London, the Musée National d’Art Moderne – Centre Pompidou, Paris, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York in 2017, and the 2012 exhibition David Hockney: A Bigger Picture held at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. 

    •    Radically redefining his drawing practice, Hockney’s pioneering use of the iPad has been the focus of recent exhibitions including David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020 held at the Royal Academy of Arts in 2021 and David Hockney: A Year in Normandy at the Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris. 


    i Marco Livingstone, ‘The Road Less Travelled’, in A Bigger Picture (exh. cat.), London, Royal Academy of Arts, 2012, p. 24. 
    ii David Hockney, quoted in William Boyd, ‘David Hockney, The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020’, in David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020, (exh. cat.), London, Royal Academy of Arts, 2021, n.p. 
    iii Davvid Hockney, ‘”I love drawing”: David Hokney on iPad painting and finding joy in spring’, RA Magazine, 18 May 2021, online
    iv William Boyd, ‘David Hockney, The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020’, in David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020, (exh. cat.), London, Royal Academy of Arts, 2021, n.p. 
    v Matthew Sperling, ‘Nature Boys – Hockney and van Gogh in Amsterdam’, Apollo, 7 March 2019, online
    vi David Hockney, David Hockney in Conversation with Edith Devaney’, in The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020, (exh. cat.), London, Royal Academy of Arts, 2021, n.p.

    • Provenance

      Galerie Lelong, Paris
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      London, Royal Academy of Arts; Bilbao, Guggenheim Museum; Cologne, Museum Ludwig, David Hockney. A Bigger Picture, 21 January 2012 - 4 February 2013, no. 119.36, p. 227 (another example exhibited and illustrated, p. 236)
      San Francisco, de Young Museum, David Hockney. A Bigger Exhibition, 26 October 2013 - 20 January 2014, no. 172, p. 219 (another example exhibited and illustrated, p. 151)
      London, Annely Juda Fine Art, David Hockney. The Arrival of Spring, 8 May - 12 July 2014, n.p. (another example exhibited and illustrated)
      Venice, L.A. Louver, David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, 9 July - 29 August 2014 (another example exhibited)
      New York, Pace Gallery, David Hockney. The Arrival of Spring, 5 September - 1 November 2014, p. 66 (another example exhibited and illustrated, p. 67)
      Paris, Galerie Lelong, David Hockney. The Arrival of Spring, 21 May - 24 July 2015, p. 52 (another example exhibited and illustrated, p. 51)
      Arles, Fondation Vincent van Gogh, David Hockney. L'arrivée du printemps, 11 October 2015 - 10 January 2016, pp. 36, 79 (another example exhibited and illustrated, p. 37; illustrated inside back cover)
      Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria, David Hockney: Current, 11 November 2016 - 13 March 2017, pp. 143, 319 (another example exhibited and illustrated, pp. 130, 283)

    • Literature

      David Hockney and Hans Werner Holzwarth, eds., David Hockney—A Chronology, Cologne, 2020, p. 484 (de Young Museum, San Francisco, 2013 installation view 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


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

signed and dated 'David Hockney 2011.' lower right; numbered '9/10' lower centre
iPad drawing printed on four sheets of paper and mounted on four sheets of Dibond
each 117.5 x 88.3 cm (46 1/4 x 34 3/4 in.)
overall 235 x 166.7 cm (92 1/2 x 65 5/8 in.)

Executed in 2011, this work is number 9 from an edition of 10.

Full Cataloguing

£180,000 - 250,000 ‡♠

Sold for £504,000

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