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16. November 2018

David Hockney’s Painting Has Been Sold for a Record $90,312,500 at Christie’s Auction House

The eighty-one-year-old British artist’s painting entitled “Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)” is now the most expensive work by a living artist to be sold at auction. The sale took place on Thursday evening at the auction house of our partner, Christie’s, for a record $90,312,500.

American artist Jeff Koons, with his Balloon Dog (Orange), which sold for 58.4 million dollars in 2013 in New York, was the previous record holder.

This record was broken five years later, and the most expensive living artist today is the British painter David Hockney. He began as an abstract artist, but soon joined the Pop Art movement in the 1960s, becoming one of its pioneers.

His most influential period was in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1961, while still a student at London’s Royal College of Art, David Hockney had his first exhibit and arrived in New York for the first time. He openly came out as a gay man – even signing some of his paintings with the words “Queer” or “unorthodox love” – and he dyed his hair blond, because, as he said, blonds and blondes “have more fun.”

At one of Andy Warhol’s parties, he met the actor Dennis Hopper, who invited him to California. Captivated by the opulence of America’s rich and famous and the charming young California men he met, Hockney painted his now famous depictions of swimming pools and sprinklers. The seemingly banal idyllic canvases hide a sense of tragedy or fear of the future. His most iconic painting from this period is called “A Bigger Splash.” It shows a modern house in the background and a pool with a diving board in the front, but instead of the swimmer, we only see a splash of water on the surface of the pool.

No less iconic is Hockney’s portrait of his friend, the American artist Peter Schlesinger, who is observed by the painter himself. In it, the artist depicts himself as a disinterested observer, someone who perceives society’s emotional deficiency. It is his painting called Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), which he completed in 1972, and it just became the most expensive work by a living artist sold at auction.

The painting’s owner, the fifth richest British businessman Joe Lewis, sold the painting at Christie’s auction house for $90,312,500. The net worth of this foreign exchange trader is estimated to be 5.5 billion dollars. His collection is thought to include works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Lucian Freud.


David Hockney - Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)

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