Reminiscent of David Hockney’s celebrated painting A Bigger Splash, the Swimming Pools prints show Hockney exploring this subject across a different medium.
A Bigger Splash is one of Hockney’s best known paintings. It hangs in the permanent collection of the Tate Britain in London.
The made a number of prints depicting swimming pools, with the medium lending itself particularly well to the watery tones, adding a layer of transparency to the works that contrasts with the flatness of some of the paintings.
Along with Hockney’s other iconic subjects – including the double portrait and perhaps the still life of flowers – swimming pools have become forever associated with this British artist who moved to LA in 1964, in search of the sharp light and shadows he had seen in Hollywood movies as a student.
Following the success of his first London exhibition, Paintings with People In, held at the Kasmin Gallery in New Bond Street, Hockney sold his piece A Rake’s Progress (1963) – a contemporary re-working of Hogarth’s series of the same name – for a large sum.
Drawn by the glamour of Hollywood, and having had enough of post-war London — a grey, boring place where one needed ‘too much money’ to survive comfortably (drinks cost up to £1, as the artist once remarked in interview) — Hockney moved his home and studio to Santa Monica, California in 1964.
In these vibrant prints we can see the influence of modernists such as Henri Matisse who similarly sought out the bright sunshine of the South of France, particularly in intaglio prints such as My Pool And Terrace and lithographs such as Afternoon Swimming.
Covering the surface of the water is a mass of free-flowing, dark-blue curved lines that convey a sense calm movement against the static surroundings. The artist commented in the context of his favourite theme: “It is a formal problem to represent water, to describe water, because it can be anything. It can be any colour, it’s movable, and it has no set visual description.”
Made in the ’70s and ’80s, these works reflect an important time in Hockney’s oeuvre when he was working with master printers Gemini G.E.L. of LA with whom he had begun experimenting with other print techniques, as seen with with his first series of lithographs, A Hollywood Collection.
Who could forget the historical sale of Hockney's Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) in 2018? A seminal work in Hockney's career, the painting sold at Christie's for $90.3 million with fees, making him the most expensive living artist at the time, briefly overtaking Jeff Koons.
Always an artist to embrace new technologies, David Hockney’s xerox prints in this series showcase his commitment to reflecting technological progress in his artwork. Innovative, versatile and curious, acclaimed British artist Hockney has never been one to shy away from the challenge of a new medium.