A Bigger Splash
Acrylic Paint on Canvas
This painting depicts a splash in a Californian swimming pool. Hockney first visited Los Angeles in 1963, a year after graduating from the Royal College of Art, London. He returned there in 1964 and remained, with only intermittent trips to Europe, until 1968 when he came back to London. In 1976 he made a final trip back to Los Angeles and set up permanent home there. He was drawn to California by the relaxed and sensual way of life. He commented: ‘the climate is sunny, the people are less tense than in New York … When I arrived I had no idea if there was any kind of artistic life there and that was the least of my worries.’ (Quoted in Kinley, [p.4].) In California, Hockney discovered, everybody had a swimming pool. Because of the climate, they could be used all year round and were not considered a luxury, unlike in Britain where it is too cold for most of the year. Between 1964 and 1971 he made numerous paintings of swimming pools. In each of the paintings he attempted a different solution to the representation of the constantly changing surface of water. His first painted reference to a swimming pool is in the painting California Art Collector 1964 (private collection). Picture of a Hollywood Swimming Pool 1964 (private collection) was completed in England from a drawing. While his later swimming pools were based on photographs, in the mid 1960s Hockney’s depiction of water in swimming pools was consciously derived from the influences of his contemporary, the British painter Bernard Cohen (born 1933), and the later abstract paintings by French artist Jean Dubuffet (1901-85). At this time he also began to leave wide borders around the paintings unpainted, a practice developed from his earlier style of keeping large areas of the canvas raw. At the same time, he discovered fast-drying acrylic paint to be more suited to portraying the sun-lit, clean-contoured suburban landscapes of California than slow drying oil paint.
A Bigger Splash was painted between April and June 1967 when Hockney was teaching at the University of California at Berkeley. The image is derived in part from a photograph Hockney discovered in a book on the subject of building swimming pools. The background is taken from a drawing he had made of Californian buildings. A Bigger Splash is the largest and most striking of three ‘splash’ paintings. The Splash (private collection) and A Little Splash (private collection) were both completed in 1966. They share compositional characteristics with the later version. All represent a view over a swimming pool towards a section of low-slung, 1960s modernist architecture in the background. A diving board juts out of the margin into the paintings’ foreground, beneath which the splash is represented by areas of lighter blue combined with fine white lines on the monotone turquoise water. The positioning of the diving board – coming at a diagonal out of the corner – gives perspective as well as cutting across the predominant horizontals. The colours used in A Larger Splash are deliberately brighter and bolder than in the two smaller paintings in order to emphasise the strong Californian light. The yellow diving board stands out dramatically against the turquoise water of the pool, which is echoed in the intense turquoise of the sky. Between sky and water, a strip of flesh-coloured land denotes the horizon and the space between the pool and the building. This is a rectangular block with two plate glass windows, in front of which a folding chair is sharply delineated. Two palms on long, spindly trunks ornament the painting’s background while others are reflected in the building’s windows. A frond-like row of greenery decorates its front. The blocks of colour were rollered onto the canvas and the detail, such as the splash, the chair and the vegetation, painted on later using small brushes. The painting took about two weeks to complete, providing an interesting contrast with his subject matter for the artist. Hockney has explained: ‘When you photograph a splash, you’re freezing a moment and it becomes something else. I realise that a splash could never be seen this way in real life, it happens too quickly. And I was amused by this, so I painted it in a very, very slow way.’ (Quoted in Kinley, [p.5].) He had rejected the possibility of recreating the splash with an instantaneous gesture in liquid on the canvas. In contrast with several of his earlier swimming pool paintings, which contain a male subject, often naked and viewed from behind, the ‘splash’ paintings are empty of human presence. However, the splash beneath the diving board implies the presence of a diver.
Mondrian’s Pipe and Glasses
In The Car
The source for In The Car was Girls’ Romance #78 (September 1961)
Cupid and Psyche
Cupid and Psyche is a story from the Latin novel Metamorphoses, also known as The Golden Ass, written in the 2nd century AD by Apuleius. It concerns the overcoming of obstacles to the love between Psyche and Cupid or Amor, and their ultimate union in marriage. Although the only extended narrative from antiquity is that of Apuleius, Eros and Psyche appear in Greek art as early as the 4th century BC. The story’s Neoplatonic elements and allusions to mystery religions accommodate multiple interpretations, and it has been analyzed as an allegory and in light of folktale, Märchen or fairy tale, and myth.
Since the rediscovery of Apuleius’s novel in the Renaissance, the reception of Cupid and Psyche in the classical tradition has been extensive. The story has been retold in poetry, drama, and opera, and depicted widely in painting, sculpture, and even wallpaper.
Portrait of Dolly
Kees Van Dongen
PVA (Polyvinyl Acetate) on Canvas
The famous pipe. How people reproached me for it! And yet, could you stuff my pipe? No, it’s just a representation, is it not? So if I had written on my picture “This is a pipe”, I’d have been lying!
His statement is taken to mean that the painting itself is not a pipe. The painting is merely an image of a pipe. Hence, the description, “this is not a pipe.” The theme of pipes with the text “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” is extended in his 1966 painting, Les Deux Mystères.
Big Self Portrait
Acrylic on Canvas
Cut with the Kitchen Knife through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany
La Nona Ora (The Ninth Hour)
wax, clothing, polyester resin with metallic powder, volcanic rock, carpet, glass
"La Nona Ora" [The Ninth Hour] (1999) is Cattelan’s most famous and controversial work. It is a wax figure of Pope Jean Paul II felled by a meteor (errant or perhaps divinely directed). The work takes its title from the hour of Jesus Christ’s death.
In a press article, Cattelan explained the meaning. “I had immense respect for Pope John Paul II. Even old and tired, afflicted with Parkinson’s disease, he still kept doggedly touring the world. For an exhibit I made a statue of the Pope holding his staff with the crucifix on top, and together with my Milanese gallerist friend, I propped him up in a room carpeted in red. The result was appalling.” The work was revised. “We even broke the skylight to make it seem as though the rock were a meteorite sent by God to stop his overzealous servant from accepting any burden. There were some who believed that the work was a provocation and a sign of contempt, but they were way off base: It was actually an act of mercy.”
Although it is a highly unusual representation, this painting might be of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Whether the painting is specifically intended as a representation of Mary is disputed. Munch used more than one title, including both “Loving Woman” and “Madonna”. Munch is not famous for religious artwork and was not known as a Christian. The affinity to Mary might as well be intended nevertheless, as an emphasis on the beauty and perfection of his friend Dagny Juel-Przybyszewska, the model for the work, and an expression of his worship and high esteem in which he held her.
The Pencil Story
Marilyn Monroe, I