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David Hockney [Apr 06]
Born in 1937 in Bradford (Yorkshire), David Hockney entered the Royal College of Art in London in 1957.

In the 1960s, he moved away from abstract expressionism and began experimenting with figurative art combining abstract, figurative and pop art. He began producing engravings in 1961. A few years later when he had moved to Los Angeles, he began applying new light and colours to his work. His work became naturalistic and more autobiographical. He painted interior scenes and his famous swimming pools, in particular The Bigger Splash which won him international acclaim. He also produced numerous portraits, often of close family members or friends. From the 1970s, he started dedicating more time to large-format double portraits, an aspect he would apply later in his watercolours.
In the 1980s, David HOCKNEY uses photography in the form of photo collages to both reconstruct places, landscapes, objects and explore new dimensions. Thus through his photo collages, Hockney conveyed the immensity of landscapes, such as the Grand Canyon, through different shots. Finally, abstract paintings (Very New paintings) at the end of 1980s mark the third phase of Hockney's research into the domains of space and its application to painting landscapes.
He rapidly gained recognition for his rich work. In 1970, at the age of 33, the Whitechapel Art Gallery (London) organized the first retrospective for Hockney, and in 1998, other major museums, namely the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York) and the Tate Gallery (London) also paid homage to him. This year, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is opening its doors until 14 May for an exhibition entitled "David Hockney Portraits". Meanwhile, the Gustav-Lubcke Museum (Hamm, Germany) is dedicating an exhibition to the artist until 2 July.
Hockney's engravings account for 84% of auction transactions, drawings 8% and photographs 6%. Some 80% of his works sell for less than USD 10,000. However, some large-format prints sell for well beyond this level. For example, Afternoon Swimming, a 1-metre wide engraving produced in 55 copies, went under the hammer for USD 60,000 in May 2005.
Collectors should expect to pay on average between USD 10,000 and USD 30,000 for a drawing. His smaller pencil portraits often sell for less. Another work entitled Portrait of Dimitri Tomkin fetched GBP 5,000 (USD 8,600) on 5 December 2005 at Christie's South Kensington. Some large-format pieces may sell for more than USD 100,000. For example, a large pencil study of A Closer Grand Canyon (1998) sold for GBP 135,000 (USD 240,000) last October. Along the swimming pool theme, Gregory in the Pool (Paper Pool 4) generated GBP 80,000 (USD 146,000) on 25 June 2004 at Christie's London. Ninety percent of Hockney's photomontages change hands for less than USD 15,000. Only the very large-format works have exceeded this price level. For example, The Grand Canyon looking North, a 2.5 metre work sold for USD 22,500 on 11 May 2005 at Sotheby's.
Hockney's canvasses rarely appear on the market but when they do, they are much sought after. The artist set a new record on 22 June 2005 when Seated Woman Being Served Tea by Standing Companion (1963), depicting an interior scene and inspiring his future double portraits, hit an impressive GBP 1.6 million at Sotheby's London. Already in 1989, a painting dated 1971 entitled Deep and Wet Water reached USD 1.3 million at Sotheby's. This result made Hockney the youngest ever artist to have exceeded the million dollar mark at an auction!
Today, demand for Hockney's work is increasing. Between 1997 and 2005 prices gained more than 165%. Currently, 80% of his works find a buyer at auction compared with only 57% in 2003. The US and UK markets together account for 83% of lots on offer at auction. A number of Hockney's works will be appearing shortly at the Contemporary Art sales in New York, in particular a wide choice of drawings at Sotheby's and Christie's on 10 and 11 May. But the highlight of the sales is without a doubt A Neat Lawn, a wide "Californian" painting dated 1967, estimated at USD 3.4 - USD 4.5 million. We could be looking at a new record…


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