David Hockney at the MET - Part I: Pools


12/15/17 - The New York MET Museum is currently presenting a series of not-to-be-missed exhibitions. If you endure the long waiting lines and the cold weather, you'll reach a crowded hall that leads to an exhibition entitled with the artist's name: "David Hockney". It's enough to describe what we are about to see. The exhibition is a retrospective of the popular English artist and, according to the texts in the room, it comprises the period that starts when Hockney moved to Los Angeles, from London, in 1964. There he made his most popular works, because California offered him the paradise he was looking for: nice weather and the freedom to express his personal desires.  
The walls of the rooms are full of landscapes and indoor paintings. Hockney has a bit of Matisse in his use of blue and green, which is added to that certain something that makes his work so interesting: the attraction he produces on viewers with simple elements, such as swimming pools. Why did he painted so many pools? Because in Los Angeles everyone had one in their homes and was not a luxury. He wanted to represent the relaxed life of his new home town. 
One of his most renown paintings is "A Bigger Splash" where a splash of water stands out from a completely serene background. The acrylic paint there was applied with a roller, which enhances the effect of the plunge. “I love the idea of painting things that last just two seconds”, said Hockney although, it took him two weeks to achieve the detail of the splash in this painting.  
A Bigger Splash, by David Hockney (1967)
Technique: acrylic on canvas
In 1971 the artist, and his partner Peter Schlesinger, visited director Tony Richardson in his house near Saint Tropez, in France. In spite of the different landscape, Hockney paints there "Pool and Steps". We see a pair of sandals by the pool (belonging to Schlesinger), which represents a certain absence. By that time, the relationship between the artist and his partner was in crisis and it finally ends.
Pool and Steps, by David Hockney (1971)
Technique: acrylic on canvas
But maybe the most special of this group of paintings is "Rubber Ring Floating in a Swimming Pool", in which the artist uses a particular geometry as an answer to the abstraction of those days. We don't know what the painting is about till we read in its title that the red circle is in fact a rubber floating ring: so a painting that looked abstract changes completely. It's done as if the viewer was submerged in the water. The object gives equilibrium to the painting. The text explains that the painting was done when Hockney's relationship to Schlesinger was completely deteriorated. The artist dedicates himself full-time to his work and creates 7 paintings in two months.
Rubber Ring Floating in a Swimming Pool, by David Hockney (1971)
Technique: acrylic on canvas

(To be continued...)

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