David Hockney - David Hockney London Thursday, September 21, 2023 | Phillips

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  • “Water, the idea of drawing water, is always appealing to me... You can look on it, through it, into it, see it as volume, see it as surface...the idea of representing it has always rather fascinated me and I keep going back to it"
    —David Hockney

    Considered Britain’s most successful living artist, it is the swimming pool motif that has become a symbol of David Hockney’s worldwide acclaim. Hockney’s lifelong obsession with pools originated in 1964, when the artist first travelled from post-war London to sun-drenched Los Angeles. While flying over the southern Californian city, the artist noticed a multitude of swimming pools dotted across the land. Hockney has remarked: “As we flew in over Los Angeles I looked down to see blue swimming pools all over, and I realised that a swimming pool in England would have been a luxury, whereas here they are not, because of the climate.” For Hockney, who was born in a working-class family in northern England, Los Angeles epitomised the American Dream. Swimming pools, in particular, soon became a socioeconomic emblem through which he visually defined the utopian-like city.


    Claude Monet, La Grenouillère, 1869, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Image: © Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929, 29.100.112


    Water and, in particular, its inherent connection to light, has been an endless source of fascination for artists. Hockney made numerous acrylic paintings of swimming pools between the 1960s and 1970s and continued to return to the motif in various media. In the late 1970s, encouraged by his close friend, the master printmaker Kenneth Tyler, the artist produced a series of lithographs that addressed the technical challenge of depicting the ever-changing surface of water. Lithographic Water and Pool Made with Paper Blue Ink for Book are two striking examples of the artist’s extensive experimentation with the matter. Executed between 1978 and 1980, Lithographic Water is an edition of eleven lithographic prints of the same scene – a cropped view of a Californian swimming pool. Using a single aluminium plate, the artist was able to reproduce the transparent effect of water emphasised by the diversity of line and the inclusion of blue and green washes. Showcasing Hockney’s concern with illustrating the fluid nature of water, the subject matter and graphic marks present in Lithographic Water later informed the execution of Pool Made with Paper Blue Ink for BookCompleted in 1980, Pool Made with Paper Blue Ink for Book presents dynamic blue gestures that evoke the water’s constant movement and variations in colour. In both Lithographic Water and Pool Made with Paper Blue Ink for Book a diving board projects out at a diagonal angle, echoing the modernist cantilevers of Los Angeles’ architecture and contrasting with the vibrant colours of the swimming pool below.



    Kenneth Tyler resting on the diving board of his swimming pool. Image: © Lindsay Green.


    Printed by Tyler Graphics, Lithographic Water and Pool Made with Paper Blue Ink for Book further attest to the close creative relationship between Hockney and Kenneth Tyler. Following their first collaboration on a set of six colour lithographs entitled The Hollywood Collection in 1965, Hockney continued to work with Tyler for almost four decades. Pool Made with Paper Blue Ink for Book, from Paper Pools was in fact inspired by Tyler’s backyard swimming pool – as Hockney recalls:

    “Ken had a swimming pool in the garden… I kept looking at the swimming pool… it was a wonderful subject – water, the light on the water… every time you see it, it takes on a different character. You look at the surface, you look below it, you look through it, everyday it looks different.”
    —David Hockney

    Expressive of the freedom that characterised Los Angeles in the sixties and seventies, Hockney’s swimming pools are an embodiment of positivity, serenity, and joy. They are celebrated as one of the most instantly recognisable images in contemporary art. Additionally, emblematic of the artist’s endeavours in depicting the fluid appearance of water, Hockney’s lithographic prints are a remarkable example of the artist’s diversity in approaches to printmaking, confirming his ranks as one of the most significant and innovative artists of his generation.

    • Literature

      Tyler Graphics 252
      Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo 209

    • 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


Lithographic Water Made of Lines, Crayon, and Two Blue Washes (T.G. 252, M.C.A.T. 209)

Lithograph in colours, on TGL handmade paper, with full margins.
I. 54.7 x 74.8 cm (21 1/2 x 29 1/2 in.)
S. 75.7 x 87.2 cm (29 3/4 x 34 3/8 in.)

Signed, dated and numbered 54/85 in pencil (there were also 18 artist's proofs), published by Tyler Graphics, Ltd., Bedford Village, New York (with their blindstamp), framed.

Full Cataloguing

£80,000 - 120,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £120,650

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David Hockney

London Auction 21 September 2023