A Big­ger Splash

Vocable (Anglais) - - À La Une -


A Big­ger Splash shows a ty­pi­cal Ca­li­for­nia day – warm and sun­ny, with a cloud­less blue sky. In the back­ground, two palm trees loom over a large single-sto­ry house, with flat roof and large sli­ding glass doors, in front of which an emp­ty di­rec­tor's chair with thin cros­sed legs stands on a wide pink pa­tio. A sha­dow un­der the chair sug­gests that the sun is high in the sky, around noon. In the fo­re­ground, a yel­low di­ving board slants away from lo­wer right cor­ner, lea­ding the vie­wer's gaze to­wards the centre of a large swim­ming pool, where wa­ter foun­tains in­to the air, cap­tu­ring the mo­ment right af­ter so­meone has di­ved in.


Ho­ck­ney's com­po­si­tion is ba­sed on a pho­to­graph of a swim­ming pool in a book and an ear­lier dra­wing by Ho­ck­ney of Ca­li­for­nian buil­dings. The ar­tist has ex­pres­sed his plea­sure at ta­king two weeks to paint a mo­ment that las­ted two se­conds. A wide bor­der and cen­tral nar­row stripe at the pool's edge are left un­pain­ted. The bor­der creates an ef­fect like a Po­la­roid pho­to­graph. The pain­ting has been vie­wed as a cri­ti­cal link in Ho­ck­ney's ru­mi­na­tions on time bet­ween his ear­lier Pic­ture Em­pha­si­sing Still­ness and his la­ter "joi­ners" por­traits, crea­ted by col­la­ging ma­ny pho­to­graphs of the same sub­ject ta­ken over a per­iod of hours.


In a March 2009 in­ter­view for the Tate, to the ques­tion "Who jum­ped in­to the pool?" Ho­ck­ney ans­wers: "I don't know ac­tual­ly. It was done from a pho­to­graph of a splash. That I ha­ven't ta­ken, but that's what it's com­men­ting on. The still­ness of an image. (...) Most of the pain­ting was spent on the splash and the splash lasts two se­conds and the buil­ding is per­ma­nent there. That's what it's about ac­tual­ly. You have to look in at the de­tails." splash pro­jec­tion, écla­bous­sure / to loom over se pro­fi­ler der­rière / single-sto­ry house (sto­ry US, sto­rey GB) mai­son de plain-pied / sli­ding glass door porte vi­trée cou­lis­sante / noon mi­di / fo­re­ground pre­mier plan / di­ving board plon­geoir / to slant away pen­cher un peu / gaze re­gard / bor­der bord, bor­dure / stripe bande / joi­ner nom don­né par D. Ho­ck­ney à ses pho­to­col­lages / still­ness calme, im­mo­bi­li­té.

(© Da­vid Ho­ck­ney Col­lec­tion Tate, Lon­don)

A Big­ger Splash, 1967 Da­vid Ho­ck­ney Col­lec­tion Tate, Lon­don.

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