David Hockney

The significance of David Hockney's Swimming Pools

David Hockney | Lougher Contemporary

About David Hockney

David Hockney, born on July 9, 1937, in Bradford, England, is a seminal figure in contemporary art, recognized for his versatile and influential contributions. Emerging in the early 1960s, Hockney became associated with the Pop Art movement, creating iconic works that reflected the cultural shifts of the era.

Hockney's Style

Renowned for his exploration of diverse mediums, including painting, drawing, photography, and digital art, Hockney's oeuvre spans portraiture, landscapes, and experimentation with perspective. His vibrant and often vivid colour palette, coupled with a keen sense of observation, has made him a celebrated artist of international acclaim.

Personal Life

As an openly gay artist, David Hockney's life and work have also intersected with LGBTQ+ activism, making him not only a cultural icon but also a pioneer in shaping the trajectory of modern art.


David Hockney's Swimming Pools

David Hockney's pool paintings stand as iconic representations of his distinctive artistic style. After moving there in the 1960s, Hockney shifted his focus to portray the shimmering allure of Californian swimming pools, capturing the essence of a sun-soaked, leisurely lifestyle. The vibrant colours, sharp lines, and meticulous attention to detail in these works not only depict the physicality of water but also convey a sense of serenity and luxury. Hockney's fascination with pools transcends mere representation, becoming a metaphor for the aspirational and glamorous elements of Southern California living. His pool paintings, such as "A Bigger Splash," are celebrated for their evocative power and remain quintessential examples of Hockney's ability to infuse ordinary scenes with extraordinary visual impact.


The Significance of David Hockney's Pool Paintings

In Popular Culture

David Hockney's pool paintings have permeated popular culture and become emblematic of his artistic legacy. These iconic works, including "Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)" and "A Bigger Splash" have not only adorned the walls of prestigious art institutions but have also inspired countless references in film, fashion, and design.

In the Art World

Hockney's vibrant depictions of swimming pools have become synonymous with the aesthetic of Southern California, influencing a generation of artists and setting a standard for the representation of leisure and luxury. His pool paintings have been featured prominently in major retrospectives, contributing to the artist's status as a cultural icon. Exhibitions dedicated to Hockney's pool series have attracted global audiences, underscoring the enduring fascination with these visually arresting and culturally resonant works.


Breaking Records: Hockney's Pool Paintings at Auction

The pinnacle of David Hockney's auction success was marked by the sale of his iconic 1972 masterpiece, "Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)" which achieved a record-breaking price of $90.3 million in a November 2018 Christie's auction in New York. This result broke records, becoming one of the most expensive works of art by a living artist sold at auction. The record-setting sale underscores the enduring allure of Hockney's work and is indicative of the profound impact of his swimming pool motif.

"Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)" has been featured in multiple exhibitions, including Tate’s most visited exhibition in history, David Hockney’s retrospective at Tate Britain in 2017, attracting almost half a million visitors.


David Hockney's 'California' at Christie's Upcoming Auction

David Hockney's 1965 work 'California' is coming to auction at Christie's upcoming 20th/21st Century: London Evening Sale next week, on 7 March 2024. Having been absent from public view since its acquisition by a private collector in 1968, there is an element of rarity and mystery to its reappearance on the market. The $20 million estimate reflects the high regard in which Hockney's works are held, underlining the enduring appeal of his contributions to art history. The auction is likely to draw considerable attention from collectors, enthusiasts, and art connoisseurs eager to witness the rediscovery of this important piece within Hockney's body of work.


Hockney's Swimming Pools in Print

David Hockney's prints and editions represent a fascinating facet of his artistic output. As with many of peers, Hockney has also ventured into creating limited edition prints, including a small number featuring his iconic swimming pool motifs, providing art enthusiasts with more accessible opportunities to own a piece of Hockney's celebrated pool series.


With only a small number of swimming pool print editions in existence, the market for them has seen growing demand, reflecting the enduring popularity of his work and this series. As of 28 February 2024, the highest price achieved at auction for Hockney's swimming pool prints stands at £214,200, achieved by Phillips London in 2023.

There are 11 versions of Hockney's swimming pool lithographs, each title starting with 'Lithograph of Water...' and created between 1978 and 1980. Iconic and classic contemporary art, they are considered a must-have for all serious print collections, and are now included in the permanent collection of many private and public institutions around the world.

Reading next

Damien Hirst For the Love of God diamond Skull
Bridget Riley | Iconic Abstract Works | Lougher Contemporary