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  • David Hockney's swimming pools are widely identified as the artist's most famous motif, embodying his fascination with post-war America and, in particular, the hedonism of California. Hockney's swimming pools also serve as a metaphorical springboard into an extended investigation that spanned decades of his career: the formal challenge of representing water.

    'It is an interesting formal problem; it is a formal problem to represent water, to describe water, because it can be anything. It can be any colour and it has no set visual description.' —David Hockney

     

    The concern of depicting water has occupied artists throughout history. Pool Made with Paper Blue Ink for Book from Paper Pools [Lot 19] and Lithograph of Water Made of Thick and Thin Lines and Two Light Blue Washes [Lot 20] mark two stages in Hockney’s experimentations regarding the matter. In both lithographs, the stillness of the solid, protruding diving board contrasts with the heavily marked surface of the pool below. Dynamic blue gestures evoke the constant movement of the water and are reminiscent of the bold arcs that Hockney had painted on the bottom of his own backyard pool by 1978. These fluid marks also pay homage to Henri Matisse’s earlier iteration of the same subject: The Swimming Pool (1952). While Matisse includes the occasional swimming figure, Hockney concentrates on the water itself, using shadows, gestures, and ink washes to emulate its undulating surface.

     

    Swimming pools became a staple of Hockney’s oeuvre early on in his career. Flying into Los Angeles for the first time in 1963, Hockney looked out of the aeroplane window and was immediately captivated by the striking blues of the countless swimming pools scattered throughout the city below. Following a move to this ‘promised land’ in 1964, Hockney visually defined Los Angeles through his celebrated pool paintings, including A Bigger Splash (1967) which currently resides in Tate Britain’s permanent collection.

           

    Michael Childers, David Hockney, poolside in Los Angeles, with polaroid’s of David Stolts and Ian Falconer, circa 1978. © Michael Childers/Corbis via Getty Images

    Hockney’s pool paintings of the 1960s exemplify his initial approaches to depicting water, executed almost exclusively in acrylic paint. Yet, in 1978, Hockney embarked on an intense period of experimentation, encouraged by his close friend and master printmaker, Kenneth Tyler. While staying with Tyler in New York, Hockney produced several editions of swimming pool lithographs in addition to his Paper Pools – unique works made of dyed paper pulp which resulted in a cross between painting, printmaking and paper making. Pool Made with Paper and Blue Ink for Book was created to accompany a publication on the Paper Pools series, emphasising the interconnected nature of Hockney’s swimming pool images, despite the varied media he used. Attesting to the fruitful and longstanding creative relationship between David Hockney and Ken Tyler, both Pool Made with Paper and Blue Ink for Book, from Paper Pools, and Lithograph of Water Made of Thick and Thin Lines and Two Light Blue Washes were printed by Tyler Graphics Ltd.
    'I believe that the problem of how to depict something is… an interesting one and it’s a permanent one; there is no solution to it. There are a thousand and one ways you can go about it. There is no set rule.' —David Hockney 

    • Literature

      Tyler Graphics 250
      Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo 207

23

Lithograph of Water Made of Thick and Thin Lines and Two Light Blue Washes (T.G. 250, M.C.A.T 207)

1978-80
Lithograph in blue and green, on TGL handmade paper, with full margins.
I. 51 x 70 cm (20 1/8 x 27 1/2 in.)
S. 66 x 86.6 cm (25 7/8 x 34 1/8 in.)

Signed, dated and numbered 36/40 in pencil (there were also 16 artist's proofs), published by Tyler Graphics, Ltd., Mount Kisco, New York (with their blindstamp), framed.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
£40,000 - 60,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £128,520

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Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 19-20 January 2022