A Buyer’s Guide To David Hockney

Written by - Lucy Howie
Vertical Dogs by David HockneyVertical Dogs © David Hockney 1995

If you are in the market to buy a David Hockney print, here are a few pieces of advice before you start your search, to make sure you find the right piece at the right price.

Looking to sell a Hockney print? Read our dedicated David Hockney Sellers Guide.

Artist and painter David Hockney is also a prolific and exceptionally innovative printmaker, renowned for his ability to adapt to evolving technology. “I love new mediums. I think mediums can turn you on, they can excite you; they always let you do something in a different way,” Hockney has said about his passion for different styles and techniques.

Hockney discovered printmaking while studying at Bradford College of Art, exploring methods such as etching, lithography and aquatint. These early experiments had an enduring impact on his practice and his visual style.

Pool Made With Paper And Blue Ink For Book by David HockneyPool Made With Paper And Blue Ink For Book © David Hockney 1980

What types of Hockney prints can you buy?

David Hockney prints constitute a large and diverse body of work, from etchings and lithographs to homemade prints, iPad drawings, as well as prints based on his famous paintings and photographs. His subjects range from landscapes to still life; portraits of family, friends and pets, as well as works inspired by masters like Hogarth and Picasso.

In the early days of his printmaking practice, Hockney was committed to etching, lithography and aquatint. One of his best-known works from this period is his portfolio of 16 etchings, A Rake’s Progress (1961-63), which was based on both William Hogarth’s paintings of the same name and Hockney’s first trip to America.

Hockney’s lithographic work took root following time in California. In 1979, he produced a portfolio with Gemini G.E.L, which included portraits of his friends Ann Upton and Celia Birtwell.

In the mid 1980s, Hockney devised a way of making prints outside of a traditional printing studio. Using photocopy machines, fax machines and computers, he created his Home Made Prints series. “I can work with great speed and responsiveness. In fact, this is the closest I’ve ever come in printing to what it’s like to paint,” Hockney said of the technique.

Between 2009-12, Hockney created over a hundred prints using his iPhone and iPad of the landscape and changing seasons in Yorkshire.

Which Hockney print should you invest in?

The most desirable Hockney prints on the market are those from his time in America in the 1960s and 1970s – these large, colourful lithographs, often featuring swimming pools and intimate portraits, including A Hollywood Collection and the Paper Pool series.

Works from the 1980s, such as the famed Moving Focus series made with printmaker Ken Tyler, and Caribbean Tea Time, have also been popular with collectors and commanded high prices on the secondary market.

Out of Hockney’s portraits, his images of Celia Birtwell are among the most popular, with An Image Of Celia achieving the highest prices. “Celia is one of the few girls I know really well,” said Hockney. “I’ve drawn her so many times and knowing her makes it always slightly different. I don’t bother getting the likeness in her face because I know it so well. She has many faces and I think if you looked through all the drawings I’ve done of her, you’d see that they don’t look alike.”

Browse Hockney’s Celia Birtwell portfolio.

The investment value of Hockney prints can be affected by several factors, including its edition size, rarity, condition and provenance. Popularity, for example if a similar artwork had featured in a recent exhibition, can also sway market trends, while other prints have lasting appeal. Hockney’s earliest series, A Rake’s Progress, are “less obviously decorative and are more of a connoisseur’s market,” states independent prints dealer Lyndsey Ingram, suggesting they appeal more to collectors interested in the works’ historical significance.

Living Room And Terrace by David HockneyLiving Room And Terrace © David Hockney 1986

How do you authenticate a Hockney print?

Most of Hockney’s prints are signed, dated and include edition numbers; depending on the publisher, Hockney’s etchings and lithographs can also include a blindstamp. If this information is not available, the David Hockney Foundation is an invaluable resource that holds detailed records of the artist’s print portfolios and editions. They can provide initial help with identifying the period of your print.

Beyond the Foundation, it is crucial to ensure that any print you want to buy has detailed paperwork tracing its provenance, origin and sale history. This may mention a gallery, an auction house or any restoration work done to the print. It is also worth cross-checking with these records.

How do you check the condition of a Hockney print?

The condition of a Hockney print will affect its value, so you should always make sure the print that you want to buy is in pristine condition; before purchasing, look for signs of damage such as faded colours from exposure to direct sunlight; tearing; mould stains; yellowed paper; water stains; and warping from humidity changes.

Once you have made your purchase, it is important to keep your Hockney print in perfect condition. Prints should be framed behind UV-protective glass with an acid-free mount or backing. Once framed, keep your print in a stable environment, avoiding extreme or changing temperature, moisture and direct sunlight. If unframed, the print should be stored flat in the dark.

Remember to also keep your paperwork safe, you will need it if you decide to sell your Hockney print in the future.

Vertical Dogs by David HockneyVertical Dogs © David Hockney 1995

Where do I buy a Hockney print?

You can buy Hockney prints online, at auction and through private sales handled by a broker, such as MyArtBroker. Whether you are a first-time buyer or an experienced collector, it is vital to buy your Hockney print from a trusted source.

At MyArtBroker, we can connect you with expert brokers who will be on hand to help you find and buy your first Hockney print. With our large network of collectors, we can locate specific and rare works, as well as condition check and authenticate artworks. So you can have confidence before you buy.

Browse our David Hockney prints for sale.

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