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.

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - Con­tact the writer at mei­jia@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Mei Jia

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.”

REUTERS

Bri­tish artist David Hock­ney turns the pages of dur­ing the Frank­furt Book Fair in Ger­many.

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