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David Hockney (b. 1937)

Study for Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)

David Hockney (b. 1937)
Study for Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)
graphite, gouache, tape and paper collage on paper
13¾ x 18½ in. (34.9 x 46.9 cm.)
Executed in 1972.
Nishimura Gallery, Tokyo
Acquired from the above by the present owner

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Lot Essay

Portrait of an Artist (Pool with two Figures) and the subsequent painting of the same title were produced by Hockney during a difficult period in his relationship with Peter Schlesinger. Hockney describes the moment in his own words:

"The truth is I was so unhappy, there was nothing to do but work. That was when I started staying in. I didn't go out much; I just worked and I began the Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) all from September on. Whereas with Peter I often went out on an evening, from then on I didn't. For about three months I was painting fourteen, fifteen hours a day. There was nothing else I wanted to do. It was a way of coping with life. It was very lonely; I was incredibly lonely"
(D. Hockney, David Hockney by David Hockney, New York, 1977, p. 240).

In this work the swimmer is exposed, half-naked to the fully clothed spectator, Peter Schlesinger. The emotional distance implied between the swimmer and the clothed figure speak volumes; the swimmer exposed and vulnerable to the gaze of the clothed voyeur intensifies the silence of the moment. Extremely poetic and rich with emotional significance the work is an amalgam of transparent metaphors and personal allegory.

The present lot allows us to see the artists working method, the production draft for one of Hockney's most admired paintings. The construction is a composite of disparate images. As in the artist's familiar photo-collage works this watercolor and paper collage brings peripheral or disparate images into the same picture plane; in this case specifically incorporating images originating from different places and times into a keenly crafted visual storyline. This work is an invitation into the artists working method and thought process and is rich with possibility and beauty.

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