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  • 'Every tree is different. Every single one. The branches, the forces in it; they are marvellously different. You are thrilled. This is the infinity of nature.' —David HockneyFor nearly thirty years, the polished glamour of Los Angeles was home for Bradford born artist, David Hockney. Having escaped what he then considered a dreary Yorkshire upbringing, Hockney embraced the sun-soaked glamour of poolside parties, and the freedom to live and love as he chose. But in the 1990’s, he began returning to Yorkshire more often to be close to his friend Jonathan Silver, who was terminally ill, and to his elderly mother who lived in the coastal town of Bridlington. A scant few hours from where Hockney grew up, and where he used to stack corn sheaves as a holiday job, Bridlington and the countryside of the Yorkshire Wolds captured the artist’s imagination and has informed his image-making ever since.

     

    Compelled by the landscape of his youth, Hockney began returning for longer stays, and by 2005 was regularly painting en plein air, only returning indoors when his canvases grew too large and unwieldy to move. Staying in England for longer periods allowed Hockney to experience the seasons. “I realised that winter had far more colour than I thought, and you get used to a bit of cold,” mused the artist. “There is absolutely constant change. Superficially, Bridlington and the country around haven’t altered much in fifty years. But when you are here, you can see how it varies continuously. The light will be different; the ground changes colour.”

     

    Hockney voraciously began depicting the Yorkshire Wolds, finding his own secluded corners and hilltop perches in a countryside that is unspoilt and subtle. His first paintings in the late 1990’s were anything but: Road Through Sledmere, 1997, Double East Yorkshire, 1998 and Garrowby Hill, 1998 all echo the Californian landscapes Hockney had left behind, with their vivid colours and expression of viewing the landscape from the window of a moving car. In these works, the journey was the narrative; but, tucked away in the quaint corners of rural Yorkshire, Hockney sat still and allowed the landscapes, the weather, and the seasons to create the narrative.

     

    A Bigger Green Valley, 2008 illustrates one such corner of Hockney’s home county, the view across Millington Valley. A bucolic idyll, Hockney repeatedly sketched this valley both from the winding path looking up at the gentle fells and from atop a steep climb, gazing over the pastures below.

     

    He found joy in every overgrown section of Roman Road, rolling swathe of verdant hill, and all the stiles in between. Hockney proclaimed, “Every tree is different. Every single one. The branches, the forces in it; they are marvellously different. You are thrilled. This is the infinity of nature.”

     

    Embracing the nuance of the often-nondescript landscapes around him, Hockney found the perfect subject with which he could continue his preoccupation with how we see the world around us, and how that can be accurately translated into an image. In the early 1980’s Hockney made composite pictures called ‘joiners’ from numerous Polaroid snaps re-arranged as a mosaic to form a new whole. His aim was to overcome the Cyclopean view of a singe photograph and the discrepancy between how we see and experience the three-dimensional world in space, volume and time, and how to translate that vision into a two-dimensional image.

     

    David Hockney, A Bigger Green Valley, 2008 (detail)
    David Hockney, A Bigger Green Valley, 2008 (detail)

    To try and answer this question in relation to his Yorkshire landscapes, Hockney began experimenting with computer drawings, using Quantel paintbox and later photoshop to create quick and spontaneous ‘brushstrokes’ using a stylus, which he could collage with photographic imagery. In A Bigger Green Valley, the resulting contrast of the hyperreal and the primitive, nostalgically soft mark-making creates a jarring vibration between our lived visual experience, and our knowledge and memory of traditional landscape painting.

     

    We have seen landscapes with our own eyes, we have seen landscape paintings, and we have seen photographs of landscapes, but somehow through combining these versions of landscapes, Hockney creates something new. He revitalises what we thought was familiar and proves that even such a traditional genre as landscape panting can be ripe for innovation.

    • Provenance

      Galerie Lelong, Paris
      Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 2012

    • 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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Property of a Private British Collector

148

A Bigger Green Valley

2008
Inkjet printed computer drawing in colours, on two sheets of wove paper, mounted onto two aluminium panels (as issued).
overall 154 x 217 cm (60 5/8 x 85 3/8 in.)
each 154 x 108.5 cm (60 5/8 x 42 3/4 in.)

The right panel signed and dated in pencil, the left panel numbered 13/15 in pencil (there were also one Bon à tirer or 'good to print' proof, and one test proof), published by Galerie Lelong, Paris, each panel framed.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
£60,000 - 80,000 

Sold for £308,700

Contact Specialist

Rebecca Tooby-Desmond

Specialist, Head of Sale, Editions

T +44 207 318 4079

M +44 7502 417366

[email protected]

 

Robert Kennan

Head of Editions, Europe,

T +44 207 318 4075

M +44 7824 994 784

[email protected]

 

Anne Schneider-Wilson

Senior Specialist, Editions

T +44 207 318 4042

M +44 7760 864 748

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Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 14 - 15 June 2021