Monday, December 7, 2009

David Hockney at Pace Wildenstein

Someone has called Hockney's recent paintings "pop Van Gogh." I agree about the Van Gogh influence, but I would say, "Klimt Van Gogh." The pictures at the Pace Wildenstein in New York are as intensely and obsessively patterned as a Klimt.

Hockney colors are a knock-out--except for the one above, these pictures don't do his colors justice. He puts together pinks, oranges and purples.

The other day, my friend S. said, "Who would have believed that melody would come back." At the height of abstract expressionism who would have believed landscape would come back.

Hockney has left California for his native Yorkshire, so you won't see any paintings of swimming pools at the Pace Wildenstein, or men in bathing suits.

The gallery, which you can enter without paying a cent, was empty of people except for us, until a lone man came in. There were no recorded guides--white walls, quiet except for our murmurs of pleasure. It reminded me of museums years ago in Boston when I would walk through the Fens to the MFA to see Gauguin's "Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going." Most of the time, I was the only one looking at the painting. I'd glance down one of the long galleries and sometimes see one or two people in the distance, then go back to Gauguin with his unanswerable questions.

PS: My friend, the painter Nan Hass Feldman sent this message:

Thank you Mim for posting this. As you know, I am a Hockney fan and looks like his new works are a bit more surreal or infused with fantasy like a cross between Morgan Bulkely and Grant Wood! One of the joys of Hockney's work is his metamorphosis of mediums and subjects.


  1. Must have been so nice before blockbusters at the MFA, bumping elbows.

  2. Yes, before museum restaurants and gift shops. Even the Gardner Museum had few visitors. The few could moon around, gazing and gazing.

  3. Brilliant paintings and what a pleasure for you to be able to view them in peace.

    We have queues three streets back sometimes at the Melbourne gallery whenever a new exhibition features. I never go. I couldn't bear to try to see someone's work of majesty while standing cheek to jowl with others. Somehow it defeats the purpose of it all.