Thought of the week

Country Life Every Week - - Art Market -

How will David Hock­ney be rated in 30 years’ time? For the mo­ment, both Na­tional Trea­sure and Grand Old Man, he en­joys the warm em­brace of the art es­tab­lish­ment. The ma­jor land­scape show in 2012 was fol­lowed a cou­ple of months ago by por­traits, both at the RA. Next month, Tate Bri­tain will award him with ‘his most com­pre­hen­sive ex­hi­bi­tion yet’, and in his na­tive Brad­ford the Hock­ney Gallery will soon open. Yet, if not feet, he does, per­haps have one clay toe.

By far the most im­pres­sive works in the 2012 show were large-scale char­coal draw­ings of York­shire woods. In the large paint­ings on sim­i­lar themes, how­ever, colour over­whelmed draughts­man­ship. One, which I thought poor then, is the 10ft 5in-wide Woldgate Woods, 24, 25 and 26 Oc­to­ber, 2006, (below), sold for $11,712,500 (£9.4m) in mid Novem­ber by Sotheby’s New York. On see­ing it again at the Lon­don view, I liked it still less. Oth­ers view it dif­fer­ently. To the con­tem­po­rary spe­cial­ist Mario Liv­ing­stone: ‘The paint­ings [Hock­ney] has made of the Wolds be­tween 2005 and the end of 2008 are in purely tech­ni­cal terms—but also in their ob­ser­va­tional ac­cu­racy and evo­ca­tion of space—the most com­mand­ing he has ever made.’ Well, give me (or my heirs) one of the char­coals any day and cer­tainly in 30 years’ time.

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