Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A FRENCH CONNOISSEUR

Writing Desk

Writing Desk
signed, inscribed and dedicated 'for Jean, a tacky souvenir of your first glimpse of Ubu from David H' (lower left)
coloured pencil, graphite and ink on paper
12 5⁄8 x 12 1⁄4in. (32 x 31.7cm.)
Executed circa 1966
Jean Léger Collection, Paris (acquired directly from the artist).
Private Collection, France (acquired from the above circa 1983).
Private Collection, France (acquired from the above circa 1992).
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

Christie’s is thrilled to present a collection of works on paper by David Hockney which celebrate the artist’s superb draughtsmanship. Despite his enthusiastic embrace of painting, photography and even the iPad screen, drawing has always been and remains a fundamental part of his practice. Born in Bradford in 1937, Hockney was encouraged from a young age to pursue his interest in art, and at sixteen he entered the Bradford School of Art, where the curriculum focused on observation drawing. ‘I was at art school in England when they abandoned drawing, they abandoned teaching it, which I thought was the worst thing of all,’ he recalled. ‘Frankly, I always blamed it on Frank Stella who said that you could have painting without drawing’ (D. Hockney quoted in D. D’Arcy, ‘David Hockney’s Paintings Are World Renowned, But He Never Lost His Desire to Draw’, Observer, 4 October 2020).

In 1966, four years after graduating from the Royal College of Art, Hockney was commissioned to work on a revival of Ubu Roi at the Royal Court Theatre in London. It was his first foray into theatrical design. The inscription in his contemporaneous drawing Writing Desk (lot 669) marks the commission; the work shows the plans for a portable writing desk with notes on its material and decoration. That same year Hockney moved permanently to California, a place he had first visited in 1964 and with which he had immediately fallen in love. The geometric horizontality of Los Angeles dramatically transformed the young artist’s visual aesthetic and of his compositions’ newfound flatness, Hockney noted, ‘Buildings, roads, sidewalks were all straight lines, because that’s what L.A. looks like in the flatlands: long straight roads, right angles, cubes’ (D. Hockney, quoted in David Hockney, exh. cat. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles 1988, p. 85). Intoxicated by sunlight and optimism, he began to paint his new home, and the seemingly infinite number of swimming pools that dotted the cityscape proved the perfect motif for an artist so strongly affected by the Golden State. In drawings such as Swimming Pool Ladder (1967, lot 666),  and the two works both entitled Poolside (lots 667 and 668) which date to 1974, Hockney captures not only the look of the pool but the joie de vivre it represents.

In other respects, the drawings speak to the larger community in which Hockney was enmeshed during this period. Created in 1973, the gossamer Gold (lot 670) is inscribed 'Jean Léger 27 Rue de Seine Paris VIe’. Léger, a young designer for Helena Rubinstein, met Hockney in London in 1967, and was the original owner of all the works in the present collection. The Rue de Seine address of the inscription refers to the apartment that Léger shared with his partner Alexis Vidal, where Hockney often stayed when visiting Paris.

What unites all these works—indeed, all the artist’s prolific practice—is his admiration and ambition for drawing as a medium. ‘What does the world look like?’ Hockney’s practice seems to ask. ‘I don’t think it looks like photographs,’ he has said. ‘You have to find out yourself, you have to draw it’ (D. Hockney, ‘“I love drawing”: David Hockney on iPad painting and finding joy in spring’, Royal Academy, 18 May 2021). Known for carrying a sketchbook wherever he goes, for Hockney, drawing has always been entwined with everything he does: it not only underpins all his art but also serves as a record for a life lived.

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