60 YEARS AND RUNNING
With the launch of a large book on him, British artist DavidHockney becomes toast of the book fair, reports in Frankfurt.
his ismy mother… (and) this is the Las Vegas splash,” David Hockney tells an excited crowd at the recent Frankfurt Book Fair while speaking about the subjects of his artworks as he turns the pages of a new book about him.
Wearing a white flap cap, the 79-year-old legendary British artist stands in front of the massive book while reminiscing about his lifetime of creation.
“There’s lots of books onmy work … (but) this book has everything,” Hockney says of the newpublication on him.
David Hockney, A Bigger Book has been published by Taschen.
The Cologne-headquartered publisher calls books like this— 50 cmby 70 cm, and weighing 35 kilograms — “sumo books”, taking after the image of Japanese wrestlers.
The large book contains 450 works that Hockney has himself selected, from his “swimming pool splash” paintings to photographs and drawings on handheld devices.
It’s a “definitive visual autobiography”, as the publisher calls it, covering 64 years of Hockney’s career from his teenage days at the Bradford School of Art and his heydays in 1960s London to his paintings of swimming pools in Los Angeles a decade later and his drawings now.
The 10,000 numbered copies have all been signed by him, and each is being sold with an adjustable bookstand by designerMarc Newson.
The first 1,000 copies are what the publisher calls the “art edition”, selling at $5,000 each, of which 500 were sold, says VeronicaWeller, Taschen’s director of corporate communications.
The remaining 9,000, the “collector’s edition” and priced at $2,500 each, are receiving lots of preorders, she says.
“The reason we did the book is simple. Our publisher, Benedikt Taschen, has been an admirer ofHockney’s art for many years and has been dreaming of producing a large-scale book about him,” she says.
There are not many artists who lend themselves to a big book like this, but the incredible variety of Hockney’s oeuvre surely is meant to be shown on this scale, she says.
“It is like a retrospective, a museum show in a book format, only that no museum in the world could ever bring together so many great works of art.”
Benedikt Taschen has also published a book on photographerHelmut Newton, the first of the “sumo” books that holds the record of being the world’s most expensive book printed in the 20th century.
The No 1 volume in a limited, numbered edition sold in 2001 for $304,000, though the original price for copies of that ABiggerBook edition was $1,500.
When he was working with Newton in LA, Benedikt Taschen thought of doing a similar book onHockney.
“How great it would be to have such a book in the same scope and detail in glorious color about Hockney, the greatest painter alive?” Taschen says.
“And since David lives next door in the Hollywood Hills, I must grab this historic chance.”
At a time when printed books are wrestling with digital content for readers’ attentions, some experts believe that “luxurious and collectible books” will be a way for print to survive in the future.
“This just shows that buying these collector’s editions is a far better investment than many financial products,” Weller says.
The publisher saysHockney spent a year in selecting and sequencing the works for the book. He also helped with adjusting the colors.
His cross-media creation has been on since 2008. An exhibition of his works on gadgets at London’s Royal Academy of Art in 2012 showcased his variety.
His mother would have “loved the iPad for her crossword”, says Hockney, but he uses it to draw.
Commenting on Hockney, Juergen Boos, director of the Frankfurt fair, says: “David Hockney is one of the most multifaceted artists of the present day.
“His openness to newmedia and his application of digital techniques, which is frankly genius, have made him into one of the pioneers of contemporary art.”
Boos also saysHockney is an ideal representative of the synthesis of the digital and the aesthetic in art, so much so that he was featured in the newly created Arts Plus section of the fair.
Hockney also talks of China’s scroll paintings and its strong influence on him.
He was in China for three weeks in 1981 — he was little known to Chinese then. His return in April 2015 was a huge hit, attracting thousands of people to his lectures, though some of them didn’t get the chance to squeeze into the lecture room but watched him nevertheless on video nearby.
He also drew inspiration from a Qing Dynasty (16441911) scroll at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, in 1983. Hockney says he stayed there for long watching the painting. Later he applied a new method of “perspectives” in his paintings, photo collages and digital drawings.
Speaking about what Hockney means to the Chinese, Leng Lin of Pace Gallery Beijing says: “He is a peer of Andy Warhol and has been famous for six decades. His influence has stayed for the entire 20th century.”
British artist David Hockney turns the pages of during the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany.