David Hockney’s The Splash sells for £23million at auction  

David Hockney’s The Splash sells for £23million at auction  




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David Hockney’s masterpiece The Splash sells for £23million – the third-highest amount his work has ever made at auction

  • Sale comes two years after Hockney broke auction record for a living artist 
  • The 82-year-old painter’s Portrait of an Artist was sold for £62million in 2018  
  • He also sold his stainless steel Balloon Dog (Orange) for £45million in 2014  

David Hockney’s masterpiece The Splash has sold for more than £23 million – the third-highest amount his work has ever made at auction.

The 1966 piece by the Bradford-born artist depicts the spray from a dive into a pool on a perfect blue California day.

It last sold at Sotheby’s in 2006 for £2.9 million and returned to the same auction house on Tuesday evening as the star piece in its Contemporary Evening Art Auction.

The Splash (pictured at Sotheby's) has sold for more than £23million, making it the artist's third-highest selling painting at auction

The Splash (pictured at Sotheby’s) has sold for more than £23million, making it the artist’s third-highest selling painting at auction 

The painting sold for £23.1 million and is the second of Hockney’s three ‘splash’ paintings, in which he gave free rein to his lifelong fascination with the appearance of water.

Hockney (pictured) holds the record for a sale of a painting by a living artist at auction

Hockney (pictured) holds the record for a sale of a painting by a living artist at auction 

Hockney, now 82, said of the works in 1976: ‘I love the idea, first of all, of painting like Leonardo, all his studies of water, swirling things.

‘And I loved the idea of painting this thing that lasts for two seconds; it takes me two weeks to paint this event that lasts for two seconds.

‘Everyone knows a splash can’t be frozen in time, so when you see it like that in a painting it’s even more striking than in a photograph.’

The first work, A Little Splash, is held in a private collection, while the third, A Bigger Splash, belongs to the Tate collection.

His stainless steel Balloon Dog (Orange) sold for £45million in 2013 and in 2018 Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) went for £62million, taking the highest figure of any painting to be sold at auction. 

Emma Baker, head of Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale, said: ‘Not only is this a landmark work within David Hockney’s oeuvre, it’s an icon of Pop that defined an era and also gave a visual identity to LA.

The painting (pictured up for auction at Sotheby's) has sold for more than £23million at auction

The painting (pictured up for auction at Sotheby’s) has sold for more than £23million at auction

‘Even looking beyond the twentieth century, few artworks have attained as mythic a status as this painting.

‘Equally as recognisable as Munch’s series of screams, Monet’s water lilies or Van Gogh’s flowers, Hockney’s splash is ingrained within our cultural imagination.’

Earlier in the evening, Banksy’s Vote to Love, which features a balloon heart dotted with sticking plasters covering the O of the Vote to Leave campaign poster, sold for £1.2 million.

The piece was jokingly priced at £350 million – a reference to the Leave campaign’s claim printed on the side of a bus reading ‘We send the EU £350 million a week, let’s fund our NHS instead’.

Banksy's Brexit-themed piece also sold - but for considerably less than its joke £350million price tag

Banksy’s Brexit-themed piece also sold – but for considerably less than its joke £350million price tag 

Sotheby’s advertised the art work with a more conservative guide price of between £400,000 and £600,000.

In 2018, Banksy’s Girl with Balloon shredded just moments after the Sotheby’s auctioneer brought the hammer down at more than £1 million.

Despite its ruined state, the buyer decided to go ahead with the purchase, saying they had realised ‘I would end up with my own piece of art history’.

 

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