I n 1988, David Hockney moved from his longtime residence in the Hollywood Hills to a beach house in Malibu. The distinctive coastal topography inspired Hockney to create paintings such as Breakfast at Malibu, Wednesday that captured the vitality of his new surroundings. “At one side of my little house in Malibu is the Pacific Coast Highway; at the other side is the beach. I step out of my kitchen door and there, right here, is the sea,” he wrote in his autobiography That’s The Way I See It. “So when I am painting in my studio I am very aware of nature, in its infinity, and of the sea endlessly moving.”
The sense of the ocean’s constant movement is captured in thrashing whorls of bold blues, greens and aquamarines of Breakfast at Malibu, Wednesday, while the pointed shapes of the waves also suggest the nearby mountains, in this poetic interpretation of land and sea.
Hockney eliminates a distinction between earth and water, as well as interior and exterior, foreground and background. Painting with vivid brushstrokes and vibrant, raw colours that clearly evoke the post-Impressionist masters whom he greatly admired, especially Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, and Henri Matisse, Hockney flattens space to enhance the emotional and physical immediacy of the viewing experience.
Affirming the significance of Breakfast at Malibu, Wednesday within the artist’s larger body of work, the painting was included in Tate Britain’s Hockney retrospective, which debuted there in early 2017; the exhibition then travelled to the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, and will be on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 27 November–25 February 2018.
LEAD IMAGE: David Montgomery/Getty Images