Artist and painter David Hockney is also a prolific and exceptionally innovative printmaker, renowned for his ability to adapt to evolving technology. Here is a quick intro to the types of Hockney prints available, their histories and inspirations.
What is the history of David Hockney’s prints?
“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.
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 Los Angeles and other places around 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.
What inspired David Hockney’s prints?
Hockney’s eclectic and wide-ranging prints vary from landscapes to still-life; from pets to portraits of family and friends; and the masterpieces of Picasso and Hogarth. Some of Hockney’s editioned prints are based on his paintings, photographs and drawings, while others are original works.
One of Hockney’s most enduring inspirations is water, from swimming pools to raindrops. His lithograph Pool Made With Paper And Blue Ink For Book is based on a drawing of the pool at printmaker Ken Tyler’s house in New York. Together, Tyler and Hockney created an ambitious series of eleven lithographs of water. This famed series was later published as a book called Paper Pools.
In his portraits, Hockney is more interested in exploring his intimacy and relationship with the sitter, rather than perfecting a likeness. “Portraits aren’t just made up of drawing, they are made up of other insights as well,” he has said. His most iconic sitters include his mother; his friend American curator Henry Geldzahler; and his muse Celia Birtwell.
“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.”
What are the highest prices paid for David Hockney’s prints?
A unique print by Hockney can sell for millions of pounds at auction. The auction record is Piscine De Medianoche (Paper Pool 30), which sold at Sotheby’s in New York on 16 May 2018 for $11.7million (£8.7 million).
Editioned prints can sell for six-figure sums – such as Hockney’s iPad drawing Yosemite II, October 16th 2011, which achieved $403,200 (£298,499) at Sotheby’s online auction in December 2020.
Vibrant and colourful prints are sought-after with Hockney collectors, with images of swimming pools and landscapes among the most popular. But the 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.
Where can I find a David Hockney print for sale?
Whether you choose to use an auction house, an online platform or a broker like MyArtBroker, it is essential that you purchase your Hockney print from a reputable source.