Pool hygiene: should you shower after swimming in the pool?

The current record for the most expensive painting ever sold by a living artist belongs to David Hockney. His Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) recently sold for $90,312,500 at an auction organized by Christie’s. The record painting is the most expensive work of art ever sold; it is by an artist who is still breathing.

Hockney once described himself as “cooler than Warhol, tougher than Lucien Freud”. The British native made a name for himself in the 1960s after moving to Los Angeles. It was in Los Angeles that he created some of his best known workpaintings featuring realistic depictions of swimming pools and Hollywood architecture.

Hockney first visited California in January 1964, after a successful first solo exhibition at the John Kasmin Gallery. The United States captivated him, especially Los Angeles, because of the impact of its modern buildings and Hollywood in general.

The swimming pool was a constant subject in Hockney’s paintings after he established California Art Collector in 1964, including Peter Getting Out of Nick’s Pool (1966, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool), and the more memorable A Bigger Splash (1967, Tate Gallery ). Between 1968 and 1977 he created a number of double portraits, such as American Collectors (Fred and Marcia Weisman) (1968, Art Institute of Chicago), Mr. and Mrs. Clark and Percy (1971, Tate Gallery).

The swimming pool and the double portrait, two of Hockney’s subjects from his paintings of the late 1960s and early 1970s, are combined in the work “Portrait of an Artist (two figure swimming pool)”. It shows a man swimming the breaststroke underwater while wearing a white swimsuit, while another is depicted standing at the edge of the pool wearing full clothes and staring at the swimmer. The scene of the work is the south of France, near Saint-Tropez. With a view of the tree-covered hills in the background, the foreground is flattened and streamlined in typical Hockney fashion.

A chance encounter of two photographs – one of a man swimming underwater, taken in California in 1966, and the other of a man standing and staring at the ground – that Hockney saw on the floor of his studio served as inspiration for the composition. By comparison, it looked like the person standing was watching the swimmer.

Hockney said of the painting: “I have to admit that I loved working on this image, […] work with such intensity; it was wonderful to do it, really exciting”

The history of the sale of this particular painting is interesting in itself. In 1972, James Astor and his wife bought the painting for $18,000, which will be worth $117,000 in 2021. It will be sold six months later for $50,000, or $324,000 in 2021. American billionaire David Geffen l would buy in 1983, then in 1995 he sold it to British billionaire Joe Lewis for an undisclosed sum.

Asked by Radio Canadawhy Hockney started painting swimming pools, he replied:

“In England, a swimming pool would have been considered a sign of luxury, as the climate in England is not very good for outdoor swimming pools. But in Southern California, that’s not the case — they’re just everywhere because you can enjoy them all year round.

“In the first place I lived, I rented a small apartment with an outdoor swimming pool. I mean, I didn’t own the pool, but nevertheless it was there.


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