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February 2023

David Hockney au musée Granet

Why we love him

The Musée Granet is partnering with Tate Gallery to present 103 major works by David Hockney in an exhibition that will run from 28 January to 28 May 2023.
Here are four reasons to love this great British artist – and to check him out at the Musée Granet!

n the studio, December 2017 (dessin photographique imprimé sur 7 feuilles de papier, monté sur 7 feuilles Dibond).

Rebellious spirit

Do you have to be unconventional and rebellious to become a great artist? David Hockney’s success seems to validate this popular assertion. In fact, Hockney is doubly unconventional. He has led an unconventional personal life: coming from a working class background in industrial West Yorkshire, the uninhibited homosexual and whimsical aesthete clearly stood out from the saccharine normality of post-war Britain. But it was across the Atlantic, in a California that was incubating the Summer of Love, that he truly revealed himself in the mid-1960s. His artistic output has also been unconventional: he rejected the abstract art that was in vogue at the time, turning his back on the practices of the period only to flourish by painting with figurative accents that have sought to seduce the viewer by exalting beauty, dreams and pleasure. 

Très (End of Triple) (1990, lithographie sur papier). © David Hockney/Tyler Graphics Ltd
The Perspective Lesson (1984, lithographie sur papier). © David Hockney/Tyler Graphics Ltd // photo : National Gallery of Australia, Canber
Rubber Ring Floating in a Swimming Pool (1971, acrylique sur toile). © David Hockney // Photo : Fabrice Gibert

Power in restraint

David Hockney’s radiant, hedonistic work is at the crossroads of pop art and hyperrealism, and has a modernist, minimalist dimension. His famous piece A Bigger Splash (acrylic, 1967) is representative of his style, with an assembly of perfect rectangles, two skinny palm trees, a diving board and a trace of foam (but no diver) providing the geometry, and a limited palette of cobalt blue, ultramarine blue, raw and burnt sienna, raw umber, Hooker’s green, Naples yellow and titanium white providing the colour. It’s up to the viewer – as with the works of Hopper – to invent the story behind the painting. This restraint allows David Hockney to inject surprising power into his very large format compositions, which are like Cinemascope paintings, both sublime and unusual.

Sa cote

Le 15 novembre 2018, « Portrait of an Artist » , une de ses toiles peinte en 1972, se vend chez Christie’s à New York pour 90,3 millions de dollars. Elle devient ainsi l’œuvre d’art la plus chère d›un artiste vivant, en détrônant Jeff Koons et son « Balloon Dog (Orange) » (58,4 M$ en 2013). Qu’importe si ce dernier prend sa revanche de justesse un an plus tard avec son « Lapin » (91,1 M$ en 2019)… « Portrait of an Artist » reste à ce jour le tableau le plus cher du monde d’un artiste vivant ! Même s’il existe encore une bonne demi-douzaine de raisons d’adorer Hockney, cette pole position ne peut que nous inciter à (re)découvrir ce peintre so British… mais tellement Normand.

Market value

On 15 November 2018, Portrait of an Artist, painted by Hockney in 1972, sold at Christie’s in New York for $90.3 million. It became the most expensive work of art by a living artist, ousting Jeff Koons and his Balloon Dog (Orange) (which fetched $58.4 million in 2013). Although Koons narrowly got even a year later when his Rabbit sculpture sold for $91.1 million in 2019, Portrait of an Artist remains the most expensive painting ever made by a living artist. There are at least half a dozen more reasons to love Hockney, but these top four should be enough to encourage us to (re)discover this quintessentially British painter – who is also extremely Norman.

Man in Shower in Beverly Hills (1964, acrylique sur toile). © David Hockney // photo : Tate
My parents (1977, huile sur toile).
By Maurice Gouiran


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