In its November Evening Sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art, Christie’s will sell one of the most significant paintings of the 20th Century: David Hockney’s Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), 1972. The artwork was included in Hockney’s retrospectives presented by Tate Britain, the Centre Pompidou, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2017-2018 – as well as the 1974 cult Hockney film, A Bigger Splash.
The painting will be presented to the public in London during Frieze Week next week.
An often-told story of two compositions—the first destroyed over months of working and reworking, Hockney originally conceived the composition for Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) from the accidental, almost surreal juxtaposition of two photographs on his studio floor—one of a swimmer underwater, taken in Hollywood in 1966, and the other of a boy staring at something on the ground. Intrigued by how together, the disparate clipped images made it appear as if the boy was staring at the swimmer, this double-portrait arranged by chance impelled for Hockney a substantial dramatic charge.