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  • Provenance

    LA Louver, Los Angeles

  • Literature

    N. Stangos, ed., David Hockney: Paper Pools, London, 1980, p. 99 (illustrated); K. E. Tyler, Tyler Graphics: Catalogue Raisonné, 1974–1985, Minneapolis, 1987, p. 391 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    In 1978, David Hockney was travelling from London to Los Angeles, his second home, when he paid a visit to his friend, the lithographer Ken Tyler, in Bedford Village, New York. Having lost his driving licence, Hockney extended what was originally a brief stop-over to a longer stay during which he collaborated with Tyler on what would become one of his most celebrated bodies of work, the Paper Pool series. As Hockney waited for his replacement  licence to arrive, Tyler showed him some works made with paper pulp using a revolutionary printing technique which produced brilliant and dazzling colour. Hockney was so intrigued that he spent the next several months creating 29 works based on the motif of Tyler’s swimming pool of which Autumn Pool, the present lot, is
    an outstanding example.
     
    The swimming pool is without doubt the most recognisable motif in David Hockney’s oeuvre. Since the mid-1960s, Hockney has painted, drawn, photographed and printed the image of the swimming pool. Emerging out of the greyness of the post-war years, Hockney’s depictions of Californian swimming pools and their association with a glamorous and exotic life of sun, wealth and leisure, ushered in a period of renewed optimism, youthfulness and colour in Britain. The Tate Gallery’s A Bigger Splash, arguably Hockney’s most famous painting, is an early work depicting a diver’s splash in a swimming pool in the garden of a modernist house under a typical warm, sunny, cloudless Southern California day. The culmination of a series of three paintings based on the same motif, A Bigger Splash sees Hockney engage with the age-old problem of how to create an illusion of light, space and volume. Using flat blocks of highly saturated colours, Hockney defined with unprecedented vitality and innovation a classic yet modern landscape.
    Autumn Pool, executed 12 years later in an entirely different, radical medium, is a continuation and evolution of the themes and compositional devices Hockney first examined in A Bigger Splash. While the swimming pool and diving board remain, the house recedes into the background, leaving the focus of the image on the illusion of light, space and volume by the opposition of line and colour and of surface and perspectival depth.
     
    Autumn Pool is a tightly framed pictorial composition across six sheets of paper, with a composite, tessellated image of a pool and its diving board. The picture’s balanced layout is dominated by the strong vertical and horizontal lines of the jutting diving board and the edges on the pool. Accentuated by the protruding white board, the composition’s one-point perspective effortlessly draws the viewer’s eye across the brilliant, jewel-like tones of the pool’s water which reflects and refracts the luminous light drenching the outdoor scene. While the bold lines define a perspective, Hockney’s lack of formal tonal recession reinforces the abstract flatness of the picture plane. Simple and daring in its formal design, Autumn Pool is filled with a tension between the figuration of the composite image and the abstraction of each individual sheet.
     
    This mode of representation has been an ongoing concern in Hockney’s work, especially in Polaroid photographic pieces in which the image is made up of a mosaic of accumulated detailed images. Another major formal influence are the Japanese woodblock prints, Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji by Hokusai, with their sense of compressed space and emphasis on diagonal perspective – a visual and compositional effect clearly seen in Autumn Pool.
     
    Ever since his move to Los Angeles in 1964, Hockney has been interested in the ways in which water can be represented. The technique used to create Paper Pools, was developed with Hockney by Ken Tyler, a renowned
    printmaker who also worked with Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg. The method involved mixing water with coloured paper pulp before the combination is sandwiched between felts in a hydraulic process. So concerned was Hockney with emphasizing the inherent wetness of water that he used over a thousand gallons of water to create the series. Paper pulp allowed Hockney to produce a unique, one-of-a-kind image in which rich, intense colour is not applied to the surface but is part of the actual fabric of the paper itself. The resulting colour has a brilliance similar to Yves Klein’s International Klein Blue. With its extraordinary brightness, Hockney was able to define space and composition in terms of mass of colour instead of line, an artistic exploration reminiscent of the work of Henri Matisse and his paper cut-outs. Although as a whole more representational in form and subject matter, the individual abstracted fields of intense, bleeding colour in Autumn Pool produce in the viewer the same powerful emotional experience as a Mark Rothko painting.
     

  • 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. 

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13

Autumn Pool (Paper Pool 29)

1978
Colored and pressed paper pulp in six parts.
182.9 x 215.9 cm. (72 x 85 1/2 in).
Initialed and dated 'DH 78' lower right.

Estimate
£700,000 - 1,000,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £1,329,250

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

13 October 2010
London