A Bigger Splash
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 HIS OWN WORDS
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.
A Bigger Splash, 1967 David Hockney Collection Tate, London.