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  • HOCKNEY’S POOL PORTRAIT MAY SET AUCTION RECORD FOR LIVING ARTIST

    DAVID HOCKNEY (B. 1937), Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), acrylic on canvas

    With an estimate in the region of $80 million David Hockney’s Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), 1972 is poised to become the most expensive work of art by a living artist ever sold at auction at Christie’s in New York in November.  Representing a culminating apex of the artist’s two most celebrated motifs— the glistening water of a swimming pool and a double portrait – Portrait of an Artist is an immediately recognisable and iconic image in Hockney’s diverse oeuvre.

    It graced the covers of numerous artist monographs, starred in various exhibitions – including his traveling retrospective organised by the Tate Britain, the Centre Pompidou, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2017-2018 – as well as the 1974 cult Hockney film, A Bigger Splash, the present canvas firmly stands its ground among Hockney’s most celebrated works.

    An often-told story of two compositions—the first destroyed over months of working and reworking, Hockney originally conceived the composition for Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) from the accidental, almost surreal juxtaposition of two photographs on his studio floor—one of a swimmer underwater, taken in Hollywood in 1966, and the other of a boy staring at something on the ground. Intrigued by how together, the disparate clipped images made it appear as if the boy was staring at the swimmer, this double-portrait arranged by chance impelled for Hockney a substantial dramatic charge.

    It comes up at Christie’s evening sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art on November 15.

    The auction current record for David Hockney was set by Pacific Coast Highway and Santa Monica, 1990, which sold for $28,453,000 at Sotheby’s New York on May 16, 2018. The current auction record for any living artist was set by Jeff Koons’s Balloon Dog (Orange), 1994-2000, which sold for $58,405,000 at Christie’s New York on November 12, 2013.

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