- David Hockney
- Arranged Felled Trees
- signed, titled and dated May 2008 on the reverse
- oil on canvas
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 2009
New York, Pace Wildenstein, David Hockney: Paintings 2006-2009, 2009, p. 31, illustrated in colour
London, Royal Academy of Arts; Bilbao, Guggenheim Museum; and Cologne, Museum Ludwig, David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture, 2012-13, p. 195, no. 95, illustrated in colour
Hockney first came to know this small pocket of Yorkshire when he was around fifteen years old as he spent his summer holidays of 1952 and 1953 collecting corn on a local farm. It was a time he recalled with fondness: “It was a terrific experience. The job was boring, but I took home eight pounds at the end and it instilled in me a love of the landscape which I never forgot” (David Hockney quoted in: Christopher Simon Sykes, Hockney: The Biography, Volume I 1937-1975, London 2011, p. 35). Although these gentle hills and dense forest coves always held a special place in Hockney’s heart, it was not until his sixtieth year that he came to study them with a renewed vigour and interest. Prior to the late 1990s Hockney’s investigations into landscape painting were dominated by sunny vistas of his adopted home, Southern California, his journeys through the great American West, Europe and to more exotic lands such as Japan, Mexico and Egypt. In 1997, it was the tragic combination of his mother’s advancing age and the ill health of his close friend Jonathan Silver that drew Hockney back to the Wolds. Every three months he would return to this small area of East Yorkshire and take his mother out for long drives across the countryside. In the summer of ‘97, Hockney embarked on a small group of oil paintings that were driven by the accumulated sensations of these habitual journeys. Although vivid enough to be evocative of direct observation, these works made recourse to the overarching simplifications and generalisations of memory, and are very different to his most iconic and celebrated Yorkshire landscapes that he commenced nearly a decade later in 2005.
To create this later dynamic group of Yorkshire landscapes Hockney would set out at daybreak traversing the Wolds to find his subject for that day. Having found the exact view he wanted to portray Hockney would sketch out the scene, already defining the composition of the final painting at this early stage, which, upon his return to the studio, would be transferred to the canvas with the aid of a grid. For the majority of works in this series Hockney would repeatedly return to the same location in order to capture the atmosphere of a certain day. For certain subjects, such as the freshly felled branches in the present work, however, Hockney had to seize all the sensations in his quickly drawn sketches as the felled trees often would have been removed upon his return from the studio in the afternoon. Depicting a subject that has been seen for a comparatively brief period, Arranged Felled Trees and the other log paintings have acquired a unique quality; the fleeting aura of an image suspended in memory. As Marco Livingstone poignantly sums up: “the paintings [Hockney] made of the Wolds between 2005 and 2008 are in purely technical terms – but also in their observational accuracy and evocation of space – the most commanding he has ever made” (Marco Livingstone, ‘Home to Bridlington: Routes to a Private Paradise’, in: Exhibition Catalogue, Schwäbisch Hall, Kunsthalle Würth, David Hockney: Nur Natur/ Just Nature, 2009, p. 188).