Why David Hockney art is setting new records in the contemporary world

29 January 2019|artists |James Nicholls

Why David Hockney art is setting new records in the contemporary world 969x563 - Why David Hockney art is setting new records in the contemporary world

There’s always been a healthy line of collectors looking to acquire David Hockney art, but a recent surge in popularity has seen the British-born, Los Angeles–based artist become the most expensive living artist in the world. In this blog, we consider why Hockney has experienced a boom, and where to find new opportunities to get in on the next big name.

David Hockney’s artwork Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) (1972) recently sold at Christie’s for $80 million at the hammer after just a few minutes of bidding. Not only did this set a new record for Hockney, the sale nearly doubled the previous record price for any work by a living artist. It was also Hockney’s fourth auction record in the last two years, and this incredible performance reflects the artist’s rising status within the art world.

Why is David Hockney art rising in popularity?

“Hockney is one of the last living artists of his generation who had art-historical relevance,” Alex Rotter, chairman of the post-war and contemporary art department at Christie’s, recently told Artsy. However, David Hockney has only recently enjoyed this level of regard.

“Just three, four years back, his prices were average; $8 million for a very major painting. Compared to Bacon, to Freud, to Warhol, to Lichtenstein, his prices never moved up.”

So what’s changed in the contemporary art world to spark this revolution?

First, post-war and contemporary art is currently enjoying a high at auction houses, accounting for a total $6.2 billion in sales last year, according to Art Basel and UBS.

Second, Hockney’s work has recently featured in a hugely successful retrospective at Tate Britain. The exhibition broke attendance records and prominently featured Portrait of an Artist. As a result, the sale received plenty of attention not just from Hockney fans, but also from prolific collectors on the search for truly iconic artworks.

Last but not least, Portrait of an Artist is regarded as possibly being Hockney’s best work.

What makes Portrait of an Artist a standout work?

David Hockney’s life-sized double portraits are among his best known series, and Portrait of an Artist also includes the second Hockney hallmark of a bright blue pool.

It’s also a painting that was inspired by chance and recreated in an unfortunate series of events, just two months ahead of its first show. The concept was first inspired by two photos falling next to each other on Hockney’s studio floor. However, after months of work he realised the angles of the double portrait didn’t work, and was forced to start again.

With only two months until his New York dealer opened a show of his new work, Hockney had to improvise and worked around the clock to finish the piece. Different parts of the new painting were based on various pictures taken in Los Angeles, the South of France and London. The composite nature of the resulting work has a dreamlike feel, which makes the Portrait of an Artist distinct from all of Hockney’s other double portraits.

How can new collectors invest in art that rises in value?

While David Hockney art is out of many new collectors’ price range, there is a huge number of emerging contemporary artists whose work is very accessible in this early stage of their career. We have a varied roster of talented names including Bradley Theodore, Danny Minnick, The Connor Brothers and many others, who are tipped for huge future successes.

Whether you are looking to invest in David Hockney art, or hoping to discover an emerging talent whose true value has not yet been achieved, please do visit Maddox Gallery. Our expert Sotheby’s trained art consultants are on hand at each of our galleries in central London, Gstaad and LA, ready to tell you more about the most exciting names in the market today.

Written by James Nicholls, Managing Director and Curator, Maddox Gallery.

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