DAVID HOCKNEY, O.M., C.H., R.A. (B. 1937)
DAVID HOCKNEY, O.M., C.H., R.A. (B. 1937)
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DAVID HOCKNEY, O.M., C.H., R.A. (B. 1937)

Detail of a Picture I had Intended to Paint in July 1989

DAVID HOCKNEY, O.M., C.H., R.A. (B. 1937)
Detail of a Picture I had Intended to Paint in July 1989
signed, inscribed and dated '''DETAIL OF A PICTURE I HAD/INTENDED TO PAINT IN JULY/1989.''/David Hockney/OCT. '61.' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas, in two parts
44 x 20 in. (111.8 x 50.8 cm.)
Painted in 1961.
with Grosvenor Gallery, London.
Mr Taylor.
Acquired by the present owners by 1971.
Exhibition catalogue, David Hockney: Paintings, Prints and Drawings 1960-1970, London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1970, p. 20, no. 61.2, illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, David Hockney: Zeichnungen, Grafik, Gemälde, Bielefeld, Kunsthalle Bielefeld, 1971, n.p., no. 68, illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, David Hockney: Schilderijen, Tekeningen en Prenten, Nijmegen, Nijmeegs Museum, 1975, n.p., no. 4, illustrated.
London, Arthur Jeffress Gallery, New Approaches to the Figure, August – September 1962, no. 15.
London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, David Hockney: Paintings, Prints and Drawings 1960-1970, April - May 1970, no. 61.2.
Bielefeld, Kunsthalle Bielefeld, David Hockney: Zeichnungen, Grafik, Gemälde, April - May 1971, no. 68.
Nijmegen, Nijmeegs Museum, David Hockney: Schilderijen, Tekeningen en Prenten, October – November 1975, no. 4.
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. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Lot Essay

'I want to use different styles, or a vocabulary of different styles, the same way a writer uses different words. I think it is part of a technique of painting to be able to adapt yourself to different styles… In a way I would like to paint a picture that was completely anonymous, that no one could tell was by me.' David Hockney
Held in the same private collection since 1971, Detail of a Picture I had Intended to Paint in July 1989 (1961) is a significant example of David Hockney’s experimental and stylised early works. Painted whilst studying at the Royal College of Art, the year in which he participated for the second time in the Young Contemporaries exhibition at RBA Galleries, the present work is a product of a pivotal moment in the artist’s career. Across two conjoined raw canvases, Hockney presents us with two male figures, one confronting us directly as the other appears in profile behind him. Across the primary figure’s body, a graffitied piece of text reads ‘down with’, a device which bears propagandist overtones, touching on the fearless subversive spirit that imbued Hockney’s canvases of the early ’60s. In the lower left corner, a blue and red rainbow appears, a feature which, along with the grinning face and the multiplied legs of the figures, lends the work a playful and whimsical quality. The rainbow, mirrored by the red, green and black stripes across the dominant figure’s chest, recalls the Concentric Circle works of Kenneth Noland, highlighting the influence of American Colour Field painters on Hockney’s early practice. Meanwhile, a shower of red pigment beats down from the top right, a feature which, along with the flat, stylised figures, recalls his seminal work A Grand Procession of Dignitaries in the Semi-Egyptian Style (1961). Straddling two key periods of Hockney’s oeuvre, namely his Love Paintings and his early sexually charged figurative works, which began with his depiction of Californian domestic scenes in 1963, the present work provides the ultimate embodiment of David Hockney’s formative years.
Indeed, it was Hockney’s Love Paintings, a group of works that he initiated in the spring of 1960, that enabled him to find his voice as an artist. Working in London where homosexuality was illegal until 1967, Hockney began to use his practice as a quiet act of rebellion, creating what would become the first in an ongoing series of queer couple portraits. In these works, the most famous of which is We Two Boys Together Clinging (1961, Arts Council Collection) he presents us with casual homoerotic encounters in a wryly elliptical style, quoting lines from Walt Whitman alongside lavatory graffiti and newspaper clippings, and referring to himself and his love interests through a code of numbered initials. Bearing all the hallmarks of these large-scale canvases—most notably their moody and visceral colour palette, fragmented text, and stylised figures and limbs—Detail of a Picture I had Intended to Paint in July 1989 is a poignant example of the expressive pictorial devices that the artist developed in the early ’60s.
This period was also crucial for the development of Hockney’s figurative language. First substituted through words, then approached through stylised, fleshy ciphers reminiscent of the protagonists of Jean Dubuffet, before finally rendered as the naturalistic forms that came to define his mature practice, Hockney’s depiction of the human figure, and more specifically the male nude, developed in response to his increasing artistic and sexual freedom. Indeed, this transition was largely inspired by Hockney’s glorification of Los Angeles: despite not travelling to the city until 1964, his early encounters with physique magazines and John Rechy’s novel City of Night provided him with tantalising visualisations of his hedonistic place of fantasy. ‘My picture of [Los Angeles] was admittedly strongly coloured by physique magazines published there’, Hockney recalled, referencing the issues of Physique Pictorial he began collecting whilst a post-graduate student at the RCA (D. Hockney, quoted in N. Stangos (ed.), David Hockney by David Hockney, London 1976, p. 93). Prefiguring the queer couple portraits set in California from 1963—the bright drizzle of red paint from the top right is recalled in the shower depicted in the seminal Domestic Scene, Los Angeles (1962-1963)—Detail of a Picture I had Intended to Paint in July 1989 sets the stage for the poignant self-identity that has come to define Hockney’s oeuvre.

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