The British textile and fashion designer Celia Birtwell has been a close friend and confidant of David Hockney‘s since the 1960s. Sharing northern roots and a similar sense of humor, the two found that they had much in common from their first meeting, and together they were at the heart of Bohemian London. Hockney has always been fascinated by the changing nature of Celia’s face and she remains, to this day, one of his favorite models.
One of the most versatile and inventive English artists of the postwar era, David Hockey settled in Los Angeles in 1964. An especially iconic example from a group of double portraits of friends and associates from the 1960s, American Collectors (1968) depicts the contemporary-art collectors Fred and Marcia Weisman in the sculpture garden of their of their Los Angeles home. As stiff and still as the objects surrounding them, the couple stands apart, his stance echoed in the totem pole to the right, hers in the Henry Moore sculpture behind her. Brilliant light flatters the scene and sets the couple in sharp relief; they seem oblivious to each other as well as to their art
In the late 1980s, David Hockney bought a house on the beach in Malibu, California and proceeded to paint interiors that showcased the incredible view of the sea from his picture window. “When you live this close to the sea,” he said, “when it literally comes up and splashes the windows, it is not the horizon line which dominates, but the close movement of the water itself. It’s like fire and smoke, endlessly changing, endlessly fascinating.” In Breakfast at Malibu, Sunday (1989) the Pacific Ocean is almost opalescent and seems to blend in with the horizon near the top edge of the canvas.
Part of a Private Collection, This Painting was Photographed While On Loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
David Hockney’s most famous paintings of Los Angeles, such as A Bigger Splash (1967), depict a commonplace aspect of the city: private swimming pools. This is the final and the largest of three versions on the same theme, all based on an image that the artist found in a book about home pools. Hockney took care to keep the backdrop as flat — almost abstract — as possible, using rollers to apply the acrylic of the azure sky. The splash, in contrast, meticulously rendered with small brushes, took the artist nearly two weeks to finish. “I loved the idea of painting this thing which lasts for two seconds,” he said. “The painting took much longer to make than the splash existed for.” The result is one of the most iconic depictions of a certain upscale California lifestyle; aspirational, and perhaps more Hollywood make-believe than real.
Photographed as Part of the David Hockney Career Retrospective, on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC Through February 25th, 2018.
When I was a small child, growing up in southern California, my parents used to take the family on camping vacations to Yosemite National Park. I probably went there four or five times up to the age of 8 or so. While these vacations are many decades in the past for me now, my very vivid memories of the park and its many tall and fragrant redwood trees, crystal clear shallow streams, majestic mountains, tumbling waterfalls, and other uniquely beautiful natural sights and smells stay with me to this day. Yosemite is breathtaking. Continue reading David Hockney’s The Yosemite Suite at Pace Gallery→