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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT AMERICAN COLLECTION

Fruit in a Chinese Bowl

Fruit in a Chinese Bowl
signed, titled and dated 'fruit in a chinese bowl August 1988 David Hockney' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
36 x 36in. (91.4 x 91.4cm.)
Painted in 1988
André Emmerich Gallery, New York.
Nishimura Gallery, Tokyo.
L.A. Louver, Venice, California.
Samuel Goldwyn Jr. Collection, Los Angeles (acquired from the above in 1991).
His sale, Sotheby’s New York, 12 May 2015, lot 60.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
D. Hockney and H. W. Holzwarth (eds.), David Hockney: A Bigger Book, Chronology, Cologne 2016, p. 662.
D. Hockney and H. W. Holzwarth (eds.), David Hockney: A Bigger Book, Cologne 2016 (illustrated in colour, p. 234).
London, Knoedler Gallery, David Hockney: Some new paintings, 1988, p. 8 (illustrated in colour, p. 9).
New York, André Emmerich Gallery, David Hockney: New Paintings, 1989, no. 5 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).
Frankfurt, Galerie Neuendorf AG, David Hockney, Recent Paintings, 1989, no. 3 (illustrated in colour, p. 15).
Tokyo, Nishimura Gallery, David Hockney, Paintings: Flower, Chair, Interior, 1989, no. 19 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).
Bonn, Kunst-und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, David Hockney: Exciting times are ahead, 2001, pp. 150 and 269, no. 52 (illustrated in colour, p. 151).
Humlebaek, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, David Hockney: Maleri 1960-2000, 2001-2002, p. 87, no. 33 (illustrated in colour, p. 62).
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.

Brought to you by

Keith Gill
Keith Gill Head of Department

Lot Essay

Formerly held for twenty-four years in the celebrated collection of Hollywood producer Samuel Goldwyn Jr., Fruit in a Chinese Bowl is a remarkable still-life that attests to David Hockney’s ground-breaking engagement with pictorial perspective during the 1980s. Against a vivid yellow and russet backdrop, etched with wooden markings, an assortment of lemons, pear, grapes and other fruits glisten in a blue-patterned Chinese bowl. Competing lines and shadows push the eye in multiple directions at once; the fruits, rather than receding into the distance, loom towards the frontal plane of the canvas. Widely exhibited, the work stems from 1988: a triumphant year in which Hockney opened his career-defining touring retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Inspired by the teachings of Picasso, Cézanne and the Fauves, the decade saw Hockney conquer new ground in his interrogation of human vision, concluding that multiple fractured, overlapping perspectives offered a truer representation of how we process visual information. His study of Chinese scroll landscape paintings, following his first visit to the country in 1981, would also prove hugely instructive in this regard: the present work’s bowl, with its undulating scenery, offers an exquisite nod to this influence.

Though Cubism had long fascinated Hockney, it was not until the early 1980s that he truly began to explore the implications of the genre. Inspired by multiple fresh encounters with Picasso during this period—from the Spaniard’s extraordinary 1980 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, to Hockney’s engagement with the artist’s designs for the 1917 ballet Parade—he began to ask fundamental questions about his treatment of pictorial space. For much of the decade, Hockney would channel his findings through the medium of photographic collage: overlaying single snapshots to form composite images allowed him to better understand Cubism’s assertion that one-point perspective was nothing but an illusory promise. The idea of a single, sustained viewpoint—he came to realise—stood in total opposition to the fragmented, ruptured, hybrid manner in which we truly take in the world around us. By 1988, Hockney had begun to reintegrate the discoveries of the photocollages into painting, reviving in the process his deep love of artists such as Vincent van Gogh and Henri Matisse: indeed, the present work resonates particularly closely with the latter’s Fruits and Bronze (1910), which similarly uses the patterns of the vase and rug to further complicate the picture’s perspectival structure.  

1988 was a significant year for Hockney. His LACMA exhibition, which subsequently travelled to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and Tate, London, was widely hailed as a triumph. Featuring some 250 works spanning the full breadth of Hockney’s multi-media practice, it was his first comprehensive retrospective since his show at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London eighteen years earlier, and—with sixteen thousand visitors in its first week—went on to become the most well-attended contemporary art exhibition in LACMA’s history. The previous year, Hockney’s designs for Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde at the Los Angeles Music Center Opera had sent the city into a frenzy, securing his status as an international celebrity. Against the backdrop of the exhibition, however, Hockney himself sought increasing levels of peace and tranquility, purchasing an idyllic beach house in Malibu where he re-immersed himself in painting. The still-lifes produced during this period take their place alongside sumptuous ocean vistas and domestic interiors, as well as portraits of friends and family and a major suite of canvases inspired by Van Gogh’s chairs. Hockney’s experiments with perspective continued through a new series of works, in which he would photocopy his own creations and send them to friends and family via fax, requiring the recipient to piece them together from multiple sheets.

Aside from its dialogue with the Western art canon, the present work also bears witness to Hockney’s engagement with Chinese landscape painting during this period. The artist had first visited China in 1981, later publishing his photographs and watercolours alongside writings by Stephen Spender in his 1982 book China Diary. While there, he had the opportunity to observe Chinese artists at work, and became increasingly fascinated by scroll painting after discovering George Rowley’s 1947 book Principles of Chinese Painting. Liberated from the constraints of one-point perspective, it explained, the scrolls avoided allegiance to any one viewpoint: by constantly shifting the viewer’s orientation across the composition, they recreated the sense of walking through a landscape, absorbing it bit by bit. In doing so, they placed the viewer directly within the work: the experience of observing it became temporal as well as spatial. In 1988, the year of the present work, Hockney released the film A Day on the Grand Canal with the Emperor of China, in which he attempted to capture this very sensation by narrating part of Wang Hui’s monumental scroll The Kangxi Emperors Southern Inspection Tour (1691-1698). Along with Jade Plant, painted the same year, the present work both draws upon the pictorial discoveries of this exercise, as well as featuring imagery that relates specifically to Chinese culture.

Though Hockney’s engagement with still-life was largely filtered through the lens of Modernism, the genre ultimately had its roots in the vivid compositions of the Dutch Golden Age. There, fruits, flowers, vases and other worldly objects were staged as reminders of life’s fleeting transienceWhile Hockney’s treatment invokes aspects of this heritage—many Dutch still-lifes, notably, featured Chinese imported ceramics—it ultimately stands at odds with the idea of nature morte. Instead, we are invited to enter a world that is thrillingly alive, and which—through Hockney’s perspectival games—takes account of our own living status. The viewer is no longer a static presence, standing immobile before a single vanishing point, but instead is invited to move freely within the composition: the fluid mechanics of looking and discovering are played out by the picture itself, allowing us to catch ourselves in the process of seeing. This re-animation of the still-life genre would prove hugely influential to future generations of artists, including Jonas Wood and Nicolas Party; Hockney himself would continue to explore its potential in his celebrated flower paintings of the following decade. In the present work, he states his fundamental position: that art should not only reflect the world around us, but should also capture the electrifying, mercurial flux with which we see it.    

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