David Hockney’s last Norman works at the Lelong gallery in Paris

David Hockney’s last Norman works at the Lelong gallery in Paris
David Hockney’s last Norman works at the Lelong gallery in Paris

David Hockney, known for his paintings of pools in California, has been living in Normandy for two years where he has followed the cycle of nature in drawings and paintings which are exhibited at the Lelong gallery in Paris.

Apple trees in bloom, half-timbered houses and lush green meadows: three years after a retrospective presented at the Center Pompidou, the Tate in London and the Metropolitan in New York, David Hockney, 83, is back under the picture rails with new works celebrating Spring in Normandy, exhibited at the Lelong gallery in Paris (until December 23, 2020).

A major figure in pop art, famous for his cheerful and colorful works, the British artist who was blown away last year by Jeff Koons the title of most expensive living artist in the world, has left his villa in Los Angeles to now live in a former Norman farm in the heart of the Pays d’Auge, after falling in love with the region in October 2018, when he had come to see the tapestry of Queen Mathilde in Bayeux.

“One evening, facing the sunset on the Normandy bridge and the port of Le Havre, he said to himself that he would come and settle there … Three days later, he had found a house without discussing the price ! “, says Jean Frémon, close friend and president of the Lelong gallery in Paris, which presents until December 23 the most recent paintings and drawings by the artist, dedicated to this region.

David Hockney, “In the Studio” 2019, Inkjet print on paper, Edition of 35 / 86.3 x 109.2 cm (© David Hockney, Photo credit: Jonathan Wilkinson, Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co. Paris)

“I wanted to represent the arrival of spring in Normandy. It took me about three months, and I think it’s the most exciting thing nature can offer in this part of the world”, says David Hockney, comments reported in the catalog of My Normandy.

Because of the health crisis, the opening was canceled, and the master of colors was satisfied with a very brief visit to Paris to validate the hanging, before returning to his Norman cocoon.

“The introduction of confinement did not bother me (…) With the changes that were constantly happening around the house, I was doing at least one drawing a day”, adds the artist who lives alone, relying just on two assistants for stewardship.

David Hockney,
David Hockney, “Apple Tree”, 2019, Acrylic on canvas, 91.4 x 121.9 cm (© David Hockney, Photo credit: Richard Schmidt, Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co. Paris)

“I continuously drew the trees in winter, then the little buds which turned into flowers, then the full bloom. Then the leaves appeared and, finally, the flowers fell leaving a small fruit and leaves.” , he explains in the catalog. “I drew everything from the look. I always needed to see things in space …”, writes David Hockney, whose most famous painting, A Bigger Splash (1967), describes a spray of foam left by a dip in a swimming pool.

In November 2018, Portrait of an Artist, a canvas painted in 1972, sold for $ 90.3 million in New York City. Each of the eleven new paintings in the series My Normandy, exhibited since Thursday in Paris, is displayed 5 million dollars (4.3 million euros).

One of the most spectacular acrylic paintings is a colorful panorama, in two juxtaposed canvases, of the village square of Beuvron-en-Auge. A little further on, the artist immortalized the pear trees in his garden, from the window of his workshop installed in the old cider press.

David Hockney in Normandy, May 20, 2020
David Hockney in Normandy, May 20, 2020 (© David Hockney, Photo: Jean-Pierre Gonçalves de Lima)

In a tribute to Water lily pond by Claude Monet, David Hockney also restored the pond in the rain of his garden, playing with the changing lights and the lapping of the water. The visitor will be captivated by two twelve-meter-long friezes representing a panorama of the artist’s Norman property. One transcribes winter, the other summer.

“I have always liked to draw (…) Teaching drawing is teaching how to look. Most people don’t really look, they scan the ground in front of them to see where they step”, laments David Hockney who, in addition to the easel, continues to work on iPad, his new “palette”, he said. “Today photography bores me fundamentally, and I imagine it bores a lot of people. That’s why painting cannot die”, estime David Hockney. “Photography is only an optical view of the world, which is not the case with drawing or painting”, he said. “We really need it today!”

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