Text by Carly Olson, Architectural Digest
David Hockney's Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)—one of his most famous pool paintings—is coming to auction at Christie's New York and set to become the most expensive work by a living artist ever sold. The monumental 84-x-120-inch canvas is expected to fetch $80 million (approximately R1 197 520 000,00) at the auction house this November as part of the Post War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale.
Viewers to the recently concluded traveling exhibition of Hockney's works on display at the Tate Modern, Centre Pompidou, and Metropolitan Museum of Art will surely recognize the work—one of the stars of the show. It has also been the cover image of numerous Hockney monographs. "It's been many years since we started competing for this painting," Alex Rotter, cochairman of postwar and contemporary art at Christie's, said at a press conference Thursday morning. "And we knew exactly what we were going after: the apex of one of the absolute greatest living artists, David Hockney."
Hockney completed the painting in 1972 after the end of his relationship with artist and muse Peter Schlesinger. In the acrylic-on-canvas painting set against a halcyon background of lush green hills, Schlesinger stares down into a shimmering pool, an abstract figure swimming toward him. The painting embodies the two motifs for which Hockey is best known—the double portrait and the pool—the only work to combine both."He looked figurative, but he had an abstract mind...so the combination of these things really comes together," Rotter adds. "It's the best the artist has to offer."
Feature Image: Christie's/David Hockney