David Hockney’s Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), 1972, sold for $90.3 million on the block a couple of days ago at Christie’s in New York. I’m aware that this is old news, but it seems that whenever a piece of art sells for an extraordinary amount of money the inevitable question arises- Why? Just to be clear I am not up for discussing why we can’t compare art’s intrinsic value and worth to human needs – that’s a whole other conversation for another time, but rather why this piece in particular and not another. . .
- Portrait of an Artist (Pool with two Figures, 1972) is considered Hockney’s most iconic painting – his most loved, reproduced and recognized – a trophy piece.
- The work unites 2 of Hockney’s most revered themes- rippled swimming pools and double portraiture fuelled with the emotional complexity of interpersonal relationships.
- Hockney boldly portrays gay life at a time when many did not.
- The painting reverberates with tension and pain of love lost – painful, honest heartbreak – his own. The standing figure represents his former lover and from what I understand the love of his life, Peter Schlesinger.
- Rarely does the opportunity arise to buy one of an artist’s best and most iconic works.
- Brought right down to it this is simply a case of supply and demand and perhaps a bit of ego. Two serious collectors in a bidding war will most certainly ramp things up.
- Provenance- coming from the collection of Joe Lewis (via David Geffen’s)whose collection holds works by Bacon and Freud among other British artists.
- Scale /it’s big
- Why not?