David Hockney’s The Splash

Year: 1966
Medium: Acrylic on canvas
Dimensions: 183 x 183cm
Last Realised: £23.1 Million
David Hockney’s The Splash. An acrylic painting of a swimming pool with a visible splash in front of a home. Image © Sotheby’s / The Splash © David Hockney 1966
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David Hockney

David Hockney

631 works

David Hockney's The Splash is one of the most iconic works of his career. Rendered in acrylic on canvas, the painting is part of Hockney's celebrated series of swimming pool paintings, which explore themes of leisure, light, and the Southern Californian lifestyle. The Splash is significant within Hockney's oeuvre for its depiction of water and its innovative use of perspective and composition. The painting, created during Hockney's time in Los Angeles, reflects his fascination with the aesthetics of suburban life and his mastery of capturing fleeting moments.

The Splash: Meaning & Analysis

The Splash exemplifies Hockney's skill in depicting the interplay of light and water. The painting focuses on the precise moment a diver enters the pool, capturing the dynamic explosion of water with remarkable clarity. Hockney's use of acrylic paint allows for sharp, clean lines and a bright, vibrant palette, which enhances the crispness and immediacy of the scene.

The composition is notable for its minimalism and balance. The large, empty expanse of the pool and the stark, geometric lines of the surrounding architecture contrast with the chaotic, organic form of the splash. This juxtaposition highlights the tension between order and spontaneity, a recurring theme in Hockney's work. The splash itself is meticulously detailed, with each droplet and ripple rendered with precision.

Hockney's interest in the aesthetics of suburban life is evident in The Splash. The clean lines and bright colours of the pool and its surroundings reflect the idealised vision of Southern Californian leisure and luxury.

The Splash demonstrates Hockney's innovative use of perspective and composition. The high vantage point and the sharp, clean lines create a sense of depth and space, drawing the viewer into the scene. The use of bright, unmodulated colours and the smooth application of paint give the painting a flat, graphic quality, which enhances the sense of immediacy and clarity.

Reflections on Hockney’s The Splash

The Splash remains one of David Hockney's most famous works, illustrating his mastery of capturing light, water, and fleeting moments. The painting has garnered significant acclaim for its innovative composition and its ability to convey the essence of a single, transient moment with remarkable clarity and precision.

The reception of The Splash highlights its importance within Hockney’s oeuvre and its impact on contemporary art. Critics have praised the painting for its detail and its exploration of themes related to time, leisure, and suburban life. The work’s minimalist composition and vibrant colours have been noted for their ability to convey a sense of both serenity and dynamism, capturing the viewer's attention and inviting contemplation.

The Splash Exhibition History

New York, David Hockney: New Paintings and Drawings, Landau-Alan Gallery, March - April 1967

London, David Hockney: Paintings and Drawings, Kasmin Gallery, March 1967

Hanover, David Hockney, Kestner-Gesellschaft, May - June 1970

New York, David Hockney in America, William Beadleston, Inc., November - December 1983

Los Angeles, David Hockney: A Retrospective, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, February 1988 - January 1989

New York, David Hockney: A Retrospective, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, February 1988 - January 1989

London, David Hockney: A Retrospective Tate Gallery, February 1988 - January 1989

Tokyo, Hockney in California, Takashimaya Art Gallery, April - August 1994

Kagawa, Hockney in California, Marugame Genichiro-Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art, April - August 1994 Fukushima, Hockney in California, Koriyama City Museum of Art, April - August 1994

Chiba, Hockney in California, Chiba Sogo Museum of Art, April - August 1994

Los Angeles, Made in California: Art, Image and Identity 1900-2000, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, October 2000 - March 2001

London, David Hockney: A Bigger Picture, Royal Academy of Arts, January 2012

Los Angeles, David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, October 2013

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