Swimming Pools David Hockney
Find out more about David Hockney’s Swimming Pool series, browse prints & editions for sale & view the works wanted by active buyers right now.
Among David Hockney’s most famous works of art are undoubtedly his paintings of pools, such as A Bigger Splash and Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) which broke auction records for the most expensive painting by a living artist when it sold for over £90 million in 2018.
The artist also made a number of prints depicting swimming pools however, 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. Comparing the move to ‘Van Gogh going to Arles’, Hockney sought to escape what he saw as the greyness of post-war England at a time when most artists were finding a new home on the east coast. In these vibrant prints we can also 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. Indeed the contrast with his earlier prints, made mostly during his time at the RCA in London, is stark. In series such as A Rake’s Progress, and works like Myself And My Heroes, Hockney chooses to use the etching technique to produce a mostly monochromatic effect.
Made in the ’70s and ’80s, these pieces 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. He soon learned the art of recreating the style of his drawings and paintings in print as well as coming up with innovative techniques to create entirely new bodies of work.
Imbued with a nostalgia for warm summer days, Hockney’s pools are of a distinct time and yet enduring in their power to arrest the viewer. While most of these scenes are unpopulated the pools also call to mind Hockney’s life in LA, surrounded by the friends that would become recurring sitters for endless portraits in print and paint. To immerse yourself in one of Hockney’s pools is to immerse yourself in the LA of the ’60 and ’70s, the pastel colours of the modernist architecture, the clear blue skies and the seemingly endless cocktail hour.
Why is the Pools series so important?
Hockney has become synonymous with swimming pools and these works show his great talent for depicting water and light. His mastery of print as a medium is evident in the way he plays with depth and shadow, alternating between the semi-abstraction of squiggly lines that recall Matisse and more painterly washes of colour.
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