art history meme: paintings 1/9
A Bigger Splash, David Hockney, 1967, Tate Modern
Hockney was an English transplant to California in the 60’s and his paintings frequently explore the developing iconography of this sunny space as it was finding a geographical identity.
The painting is decidedly rectilinear, with symmetry and parallels horizontally and vertically. The splash itself, of course, is the exception. The splash, though the least permanent aspect of the scene, is the most meticulously rendered.
And then! There are all these indications of a body that isn’t there. Of course the splash, and the presumed body that made it. The mark of the body is there, but the person isn’t. The bizarre perspective distances the pool chair but also out the lack of figures on the pool side on in the house, with the exception of the tall palm trees.
One body that is present is the perspective that the viewer experiences. Sitting on the across from the house of the other side of the pool, the viewer has a distinct space to occupy within the scene.
(the act of watching and the absence of a body)
It has been in at least two really cool exhibitions in recent years, one of which I saw and one of which I did not. But check out the materials for A Bigger Splash: Painting after Performance and Pacific Standard Time (which was actually an initiative run by the Getty with about 60 organizations, but I saw a curated exhibit in Berlin at Martin Gropius Bau in Spring 2012 that was absolutely life-changing. I had a gorgeous poster from it that I left on a train from Berlin to Dresden.)