Lot Content

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
David Hockney (b. 1937)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
David Hockney (b. 1937)

Dr. Leon Banks

David Hockney (b. 1937)
Dr. Leon Banks
signed with the artist's initials and dated 'DH 79' (lower right)
watercolour on two adjoined sheets of paper
43 x 19in. (109.2 x 48.3cm.)
Executed in 1979
Private Collection (acquired directly from the artist).
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
San Francisco, FUSED, Flowers in Your Hair, 2016.
Special Notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction.

Brought to you by

Zoë Klemme
Zoë Klemme Head of Sale, Specialist

Lot Essay

‘It is of critical importance to understand the relationship Hockney has with all of his subjects, which is why he refused the invitation to paint portraits of people he doesn’t know… I think it’s also important to note that Hockney stands still for several minutes before he paints a portrait, observing the subject but also connecting with him/her, reminding himself of their relationship and the way it plays in his mind’s eye.’
– Jill Moniz

Painted in 1979, David Hockney’s Dr. Banks is a revealing full-length portrait of the artist’s friend and chess partner, Dr. Leon Banks. Dressed in a blue suit composed of loose yet sensitive lines, Banks is composed and debonair. Tighter brushwork illuminates the details of Banks’ face and animates his wistful expression. Little is shown in the background save for an aqueous patch of pale blue sky which encircles Banks like an aura. Dr. Leon Banks was raised in Washington D. C., where he was a frequent visitor to the city’s many public museums. In the early 1950s, he moved to Los Angeles, and began his art collection with abstract canvases by Mark Rothko and Robert Rauschenberg, among others; over time, Hockney became amongst the most well-represented artists in the collection. The two met at the home of the collector Beatrice Gersh, and the two quickly became friends. Hockney’s studio, they discovered, was only a short walk from Banks’ paediatric practice. Banks repeatedly asked the artist to paint his portrait, but Hockney acquiesced only in 1979; going on to paint him frequently, first in 1994 and then in 2005, illuminating a unique relationship between artist and patron.

In endeavouring to capture a person’s likeness, Hockney regularly returns to the same pantheon of subjects, and he believes this process to be most successful when he truly knows his sitter: ‘I think the way I draw, the more I know and react to people, the more interesting the drawings will be…If you don’t know the person, you don’t really know if you’ve got a likeness at all’ (D. Hockney, Faces 1966-1984, London, 1987, n. p.). Accordingly, Hockney’s portraits are not simply the continuous thread running through his prolific career but also a visual chronicle of a life with all its intimacies and confidences. For Hockney, portraiture presents ‘collusion’ between the artist and sitter and a means to consider the dynamics of painting itself (M. Livngstone, ‘The Private Face of Public Art’, in David Hockney Portraits, exh. cat., National Portrait Gallery, London, 2006, p. 19). To represent another person’s essence is always a collaboration, and in Dr. Banks the artist allows his friend the space to stage himself. Hockney’s rendering is capacious, the image of a proud and calm man and a testament to their friendship.

More from Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Auction

View All
View All