NEW YORK – A painting by British artist David Hockney retrieved $ 90.3 million on Christie's Thursday night, easy breaking the record for a work by a live artist sold at auction.
Among his famous "pool paintings" is considered "Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Numbers)" one of his most important works. The previous record of a live artist was determined by Jeff Koon's "Balloon Dog", which sold for $ 58.4 million in 2013.
The 1972 painting by Hockney, now 81, is "his sacred degrees of his paintings, from both historical and market perspective," said Alex Rotter, co-chair of post-war and contemporary art at Christies, in September. He noted that it reflects both European and American perspectives for an artist who lived in sunny California in the 60's and looked alive on both continents.
"It has all the elements you want in a Hockney painting," said Roter in an interview. He noted that authors refer to the swimming pool as a kind of self-portrait of Hockney, though he never confirmed it and just said he was fascinated to paint moving water.
The painting, whose buyer was not immediately disclosed, had long been held by a private collector.
A portrayal of two men – one who swims the breast underwater, the other standing at the pool looks down – the template was originally inspired, according to the background of Christies, of two photographs that Hockney found alongside his studio experience, one of a swimmer in Hollywood 1966, and another of a boy staring at something on the ground.
The rocky landscape is in southern France, and the standing figure is said to represent Peter Schlesinger, whom the artist met in 1966, when the younger man was a student in one of Hockney's art classes at the UCLA. Over the next five years, according to Christies, he was both "Hockney's Great Love" and one of his favorite models.
The relationship ended in 1971. Hockney had already started painting and he abandoned it and began again the following year.