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  • Video

    David Hockney, 'Studio Interior #2', Lot 8

    20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale, 27 June 2019

  • Provenance

    L.A. Louver, Los Angeles
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    London, Annely Juda Fine Art; Los Angeles, L.A. Louver, David Hockney, Painting and Photography, 15 May - 19 September 2015, n.p. (illustrated)

  • Literature

    ‘A new perspective on Hockney’s paintings’, BBC Arts, 2015, online (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    The second of four painterly iterations of David Hockney’s Los Angeles studio, Studio Interior #2, 2014, employs the artist’s distinctively exuberant palette and omnifarious take on perspective to bring the viewer into one of his preferred habitats. By virtue of its inviting subject matter, Studio Interior #2 exudes a particularly intimate tone; it depicts the objects that populate Hockney’s interior world, presumably disposed like chess pieces to best fit the formal and conceptual requirements of the artist's particular vision. As a result, the furniture is portrayed as if floating in the room, with each object delineated as a study in its own right. Exhibited at Hockney’s Painting and Photography show at Annely Juda Fine Art in 2015, Studio Interior #2 was displayed alongside a selection of forty works which demonstrated the artist’s novel approach to creation, heavily vested with confounding painterly rendition, straddling verisimilitude and allusive abstraction. According to Hockney, these new works provided ‘a 3D effect without the glasses’: a feat that Studio Interior #2 subtly and elegantly embodies, as elements are cut out from the frame, zoomed into, and endowed with pulsating colour, creating an irrepressible impression of movement (David Hockney, ‘David Hockney Discusses Perspective at Annely Juda Fine Art’, Artlyst, 7 May 2015, online).

    Since the 1980s, Hockney has made works in series, relentlessly pursuing the same format until its aesthetic possibilities were exhausted. In the case of the present work, Study Interior #2 belongs to an eponymous series that spotlights the same furniture from different angles and in varying guises, with one armchair, two wooden chairs, two benches, a large table and a coffee table presented as a vivid assemblage, respectively coloured with acidic cyan, blood orange, carmine red, electric blue and leafy green. The collection of objects, together, function like interdependent agents; they are not claustrophobically assembled to fit in the composition’s frame but instead dispersed to fill the space they inhabit.

    Splitting his time between his studios in Pembroke, London, and Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles, the artist has portrayed both environments in numerous paintings since the 1980s, notably exemplified by his Large Interior, Los Angeles, 1988, today residing in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 'Each project is conducted in a spirit of scientific experimentation, as if a hypothesis were being subjected to the most rigorous testing’, wrote Tim Barringer (Tim Barringer, ‘Enigma Variations: Hockney and the Portrait’, David Hockney: 82 Portraits + 1 Still Life, exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2016, p. 42). Study Interior #2 follows this diligent enterprise; it is one of four paintings attending to the same scene and protagonists, so as to best capture the reality of the image in all its varying possibilities. The most open of his Study Interiors from 2014, Study Interior #2 provides a privileged look into each of the object’s physicalities. The viewer is placed as if within the scene: a supposed visitor able to sit down on the inviting benches or public-facing armchair.

    In a large portion of Hockney’s work, including the paintings that portray scenes drenched with human exposure and contact, it is not people who come to the fore but rather their surroundings, and the phenomenological power of places and objects as entities. Studio Interior #2 demonstrates this dynamic prodigiously, as it conjures a scene without a breath, resisting the typical blandness of still lifes and interior depictions, and instead suggesting the presence of a human hand, arranging and re-arranging the furniture within the room. As Hockney worked on this particular composition serially, making some pieces of furniture crop up again and again like motifs, there is the notion that the artist is conveying the developments of a story, taking us through the physical meanderings of a visitor as he makes his way around the room, observing the different details and creases of each object with an overarching eye. Domesticity, familiarity and intimacy run through Hockney’s work, and it is as if he himself gets to know the places he represents better in the process of painting them. This is true of Study Interior #2, where the furniture is subjected to unfaltering scrutiny: Hockney paints them with not just with intimacy, but with purpose.

    Study Interior #2, in its chromatic vibrancy, is redolent of the dynamic tableaux imagined by the Fauves in the early days of the 20th century. Deliberately toning down the hues that surround the room’s furniture to leave more countenance to each of the objects’ pulsating colours, Hockney employs a method akin to photography, vested with high contrasts and saturation. In a frontispiece dedicated to his solo show at Annely Juda Fine Art, 2015, where the present painting appeared, Hockney celebrated the stunning invention of digital photography as one able to free the artist ‘from a chemically imposed perspective that has lasted for 180 years’ (David Hockney, quoted in David Hockney: Painting and Photography, exh. cat., Annely Juda Fine Art, London, 2015, n.p.). With its truncated perspective and its overly exaggerated hues, Study Interior #2 aligns with artificial imagery that is manipulated at one’s own guise and on one’s own terms. It is evocative of the artist’s own radical experimentation with photography, which he commenced in 1982 through an avid use of polaroids. Yet, still, Study Interior #2 recalls older movements, and notably André Derain’s Fauvist rendition of a natural scene in his 1906 La Danse. Depicting dancing women interlaced with trees and snakes in the most heated of colours, La Danse conveys an image that is more dreamlike than real, evoking the sublimed and almost surreal visions of Baudelaire’s Paradis Artificiels. Quoting art history whilst employing technological innovations, Study Interior #2 demonstrates its timeless relevance and pictorial impact.

    In addition to its art historical lineage relating to the use of colour, credited to colourists and continued colour-experiments of the present day, the portrayed interior suggests myriad other visual sources that touch on the work’s profusely addressed theme. Straddling notions of domesticity and wilderness, Study Interior #2 indeed conjures Henri Rousseau’s feral natural settings as much as it does Vincent van Gogh’s room in Arles, iconically materialised in his 1889 painting now residing in the Musée d’Orsay, Paris. With the present work, Hockney masterfully creates an atmosphere of incredible openness, with unbridled hues and cut-off corners that suggest expansion beyond the picture frame. The artist’s studio arrangement, idiosyncratically neat and well-positioned, echoes Henri Matisse’s similarly idealised working space projected in both his Red Studio and Pink Studio, respectively from 1911. He equally cites earlier manifestations of interiors, going back to the perspectival concern that preoccupied late 18th and early 19th century painters. Thomas Rowlandson’s Students Learning How To Paint, 1808, for instance, focuses on the soaring heights of Pall Mall interiors, exploring the physical dispositions of the space at hand more so than the depicted scene. Later, painters like Vilhelm Hammershoi brought attention back to the poetry that may be found in space, and the human breath that continuously nourishes it despite physical absence.

    A result of all these art historical meanderings, David Hockney’s Studio Interior #2 is also fundamentally self-referential. According to Chris Stephens, the artist’s imagery touching on the world of interiors stems from the lessons he learned from his work in the theatre, his photo collages from the 1980s and his cubist-inspired Los Angeles landscapes, all experiences that equally counted upon the sustained observation of topography as a subject matter. Furthermore, the paintings Hockney conceived from the present series in 2014 seem to literally quote one another, as if to embed the artist’s past presence in new artistic manifestations. In Studio Interior #3 and Studio Interior #4, the current oil on canvas is shown hung on the wall, signifying its influence on the subsequent iterations that were to finalise his eponymous series. More so than receptacles of viewership and visitor projection, the paintings from Hockney’s opus thus also transform into mirrors that reflect their kin, quoting sources and reflecting them ad infinitum. 'You begin to see how many choices you can make in even these simple things right in front of you. How exciting they are' (David Hockney, quoted in Pierre de Jonge, 'Interview with David Hockney', David Hockney: Paintings and Photographs of Paintings, exh. cat., Museum Boymans-Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 1995, p. 34).

    A brilliant example from Hockney's sustained investigation of perspective as a subject matter, brimming with inimitably vibrant colour and strong conceptual vigour in association with its three sister paintings, Studio Interior #2 contains all the pictorial idiosyncrasies that have hailed the artist as Britain’s greatest living painter.

  • Artist Biography

    David Hockney

    British • 1937

    With a career stretching from the early 1960s to the present, David Hockney is perhaps best known for his bright, cheerful works depicting pools and other everyday scenes from his life in southern California. Originally from West Yorkshire, England, Hockney studied at the Royal College of Art in London before spending decades on both sides of the Atlantic. The artist got his start as part of the British Pop movement, though he’s also cited Modern masters like Picasso and Matisse as major influences on his unique style. 

    Having worked in mediums such as painting, photography, drawing, printmaking, sculpture and more, Hockney is among the most versatile artists of his time. Drawing on his lived experience, Hockney imparts obvious references to same-sex love and companionship in his work, a motif that began even before Britain decriminalized homosexuality in 1967. His work in present in the collections of institutions such as MoMA, the Pompidou and the Tate, which granted him a blockbuster career retrospective in 2017. At present, Hockney is one of the most expensive living artists to be sold at auction. 

    View More Works

Property of a Private American Collector

Ο ◆8

Studio Interior #2

signed, titled and dated 'Studio Interior #2 David Hockney 2014' on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
121.9 x 182.9 cm (47 7/8 x 72 in.)
Painted in 2014.

Estimate
£2,500,000 - 3,500,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £2,895,000

Contact Specialist

Rosanna Widén

Director, Senior Specialist
Head of Evening Sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

44 20 7318 4060
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 27 June 2019