David Hockney Painting Sells For Auction Record $90M

by Kim Boateng Posted on November 17th, 2018

New York City, USA : A painting by British artist David Hockney sold for $90 million, easily breaking the record for a work by a living artist sold at auction. Hockney’s painting eclipsed the previous record set by Jeff Koons.

David Hockney’s “Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)” sold for a record amount in New York City on Thursday, breaking the record for the highest price at auction for a work by a living artist.

The painting fetched $90.3 million (€79.7 million), surpassing auction house Christie’s pre-sale estimate of around $80 million.

The previous record for a work sold by a living artist was held by Jeff Koons, whose sculpture “Balloon Dog” sold for $58.4 million at auction in 2013.

The Hockney piece was described as “the holy grail of his paintings, from both the historical and the market perspectives,” by Alex Rotter, co-chairman of post-war and contemporary art at Christie’s before the auction.

The 81-year-old British artist painted the work in 1972 after being inspired by the two photographs he found juxtaposed on his studio floor. It depicts a man in a pink jacket looking down at another figure swimming underwater in a swimming pool.

Hockney studied at the Royal College of Art before moving to California in the 1960s. He currently splits his time between the UK and the United States.

A retrospective of Hockney’s art went on display last year at the Tate Britain, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

When he was a child, David Hockney’s favorite seat on the double-decker bus was up front in the first row on the upper deck. It provided him the best view of the urban and rural landscapes whizzing by. “I always wanted to see more!” the British painter says in Randall Wright’s 2015 documentary film, “Hockney.”

Later, already an acclaimed artist, he took endless photos of his surroundings, recorded everyday scenes, sketched friends, houses, passers-by and other people he felt were interesting.

Hockney has long incorporated digital technology, working with fax machines, color copiers, using his iPhone as a sketch pad or drawing on an iPad, creating highly fascinating works of art.

Painter, bohemian, chain smoker – David Hockney is at home all over the world. He is one of Britain’s most important artists, and highly acclaimed abroad. The Queen appointed him a member of the Order of Merit in 2012.

But his many awards, including a prestigious Praemium Imperiale global arts prize in 1989, languish in drawers – they mean nothing to him. Hockney sees himself as a worker, and often gets up at the crack of dawn to take advantage of the early morning light. “I can get excited watching rain on a puddle. And then I paint it,” he explains his passion for landscapes.

The British artist turned 81 this year, but he is as curious and adventurous as ever. Over the course of his unsettled life, he has painted about 2,000 pictures, many of them large-sized. Hockney created thousands of photos, sketches and drawings, often as drafts for large works.

He moved to Los Angeles in the 1960s and had a considerable influence on Pop Art in the US before returning to his native Britain in 2000. Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and many other great names of the era were his friends. His starkly colored acrylic paintings fetch high prices – the famous pool painting “Beverly Hills Housewife” sold at an auction for a record $ 7.9 million.

Hockney eventually returned to LA, but is for the most part aloof of the enterprising art scene, he told reporters last year. He admitted he is quite deaf, so he doesn’t go out in the evening anymore.”If I go to parties at all, I do as the aristocrats do: I’m the last to arrive, the first to leave,” he said, adding that he does enjoy friends’ daytime visits to his studio.

The British artist’s past few years have in fact been his most successful, including major exhibitions of recent works in London, Paris and Cologne in 2015/16. The public adores his colorful works. If painting had categories like serious and pop as the music world does, Hockney would be listed as one of the pop artists.

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Kim Boateng

Kim Boateng

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