Hockney painting sells for $90 million, sets living artist record

Joann Johnston
November 16, 2018

An iconic swimming pool picture painted by British legend David Hockney sold for $90.3 million in NY on Thursday, setting a new auction record for a living artist, Christie's said.

The previous record for a work by a living artist was set by American Jeff Koons for one of his Balloon Dog sculptures which sold for $58.4m (£45.6m) in 2013.

He said: 'It has all the elements that you would want in a Hockney painting.

The 1972 masterpiece combines two of the artist's most celebrated motifs - the swimming pool and the double portrait - and appeared on the cover of the catalogue for David Hockney, which opened at Tate Britain in February 2017 before touring to the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum in NY.

In the picture, a smartly dressed man, standing on the edge of the pool, looks pensively at another figure swimming toward him in glistening waters, with an idyllic mountain view in the background.

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Although the 81-year-old has lost his hearing, he continues to paint and experiment with digital art.

The 1972 painting by Hockney, now 81, is "the holy grail of his paintings, from both the historical and the market perspectives", Alex Rotter, co-chairman of post-war and contemporary art at Christie's, said in September.

The first man depicts Hockney's former lover and muse, Peter Schlesinger, who was one of his students at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Hockney had already begun the painting and he abandoned it, starting again the following year.

'The California landscape, the lovely trees and flowers and the sky, and then what we know him most for, which is the pool'.

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