Hockney Painting May Make History

1972 work poised to become priciest artwork by a living artist sold at auction
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 13, 2018 11:26 AM CDT
Hockney 'Masterpiece' May Make History
"Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)" by David Hockney.   (Christie's Images Ltd. 2018 via AP)

In May, British painter David Hockney more than doubled his previous auction record with the $28.5 million sale of 1990's "Pacific Coast Highway and Santa Monica," per the BBC. Now, one of his most recognizable paintings could fetch nearly three times as much, reports CNN. In November, "Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)"—one of a dozen Hockney paintings featuring swimming pools, per Architectural Digest—is expected to become the most valuable artwork by a living artist sold at auction. Christie's has set an estimate of $80 million, which would dwarf the $58.4 million auction price for Jeff Koons' "Balloon Dog (Orange)," sold in 2013, per the Guardian.

The 81-year-old Hockney's 1972 painting is "one of the great masterpieces of the modern era," says Christie's rep Alex Rotter. The painting depicts a man looking down at a swimmer, believed to represent Hockney's former lover, Peter Schlesinger. It "encapsulates the essence of the idealized poolside landscape, and the tremendous complexity that exists within human relationships," Rotter says. Wrote Tim Adams at the Guardian, "Hockney appears to be dramatizing the distance between subject and object." Owned by British billionaire Joe Lewis, the painting will go on display in Hong Kong, London, and Los Angeles, before hitting the auction block in New York on Nov. 15, reports Bloomberg. (Read more art stories.)

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