Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction


David Hockney
B. 1937
signed with the artist's initials and dated Paris Dec 1973
pencil on paper
65 by 49.9 cm. 25 1/2 by 19 5/8 in.
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A gift from the artist to the present owner in 1973


Vienna, Albertina; Innsbruck, Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum and Galerie Bloch; Graz, Kulturhaus der Stadt Graz; and Salzburg, Künstlerhaus Salzburg and Salzburger Kunstverein, David Hockney: Zeichnungen und Druckgraphik 1959 - 1977, January - May 1978, n.p., no. 69, illustrated
London, Knoedler Gallery, Kasmin’s Hockneys, 45 Drawings, July - August 1983, p. 2, illustrated 
Münster, LWL- Museum for Art and Culture, Bare Life: Bacon, Freud, Hockney and Others - London Artists Working from Life, November 2014 - February 2015, p. 79, illustrated
London, Offer Waterman; and New York, Paul Kasmin Gallery, David Hockney: Early Drawings, September - December 2015, p. 91, no. 42, illustrated in colour
New York, Paul Kasmin Gallery, David Hockney: Works on Paper, 1961 - 2009, November 2017 -  January 2018


Nikos Stangos, Ed., David Hockney, London 1976, p. 276, no. 396, illustrated

Catalogue Note

This exquisitely rendered portrait of John Kasmin, Hockney’s first dealer, is typical of the fine and tender portraits with which David Hockney has celebrated his closest friendships over the years. It encapsulates not only the technical mastery of line and form that Hockney has become so renowned and admired for, but also captures a moment within the life of the artist, permitting a glimpse of his interactions with those closest to him. Kasmin – or Kas as he is widely known is the distinguished British art dealer and collector who is universally acknowledged for launching Hockney’s career. He began selling Hockney’s work in 1961 after seeing his paintings at the Royal College and became his official dealer in 1962, forming a firm friendship; “he [Kasmin] was incredibly energetic and I quickly noticed that he had a good eye, especially for drawings. He was an interesting man, very knowledgeable about pictures and I was part of his eccentric taste” (David Hockney in: Christopher Simon Sykes, David Hockney: The Biography, Volume I 1937-1975, London 2011, p. 100).

After leaving the Marlborough Gallery, Kasmin opened his eponymous gallery on Bond Street in partnership with Sheridon Blackwood, the 5th Marquess of Dufferin and Ava. It was the centre of the London art scene and the epitome of Sixties cool. With the exception of Hockney, Kasmin’s stable comprised contemporary American and British abstract artists; Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Frank Stella, Anthony Caro and Bernard Cohen. The gallery, on 118 New Bond Street, was the first architect-designed ‘white cube’ space in London. His programme of alternating older established international artists with young, London-based ones, in this state of-the-art ‘machine’ for contemplation, had a profound effect on how young contemporary artists were seen, both by serious international collectors and by the hip crowd that attended the packed openings. It also gave the artists themselves the confidence to look out, across new horizons. With Kasmin’s promotion Hockney rapidly achieved a degree of commercial success unusual for a young painter: by 1963 his shows were already selling out and museum patronage – namely from the Tate Gallery and the Arts Council – swiftly followed.

By the 1970s, a distinctly naturalistic style began taking precedent in his work; a stylistic shift very much related to the body of expertly drawn portraits of his friends, of which the present work is an early and standout example. Indeed, Kasmin was one of the first friends to sit for Hockney and he remembers the experience vividly. “At the time”, Kasmin has described, “I would go to Paris fairly regularly to visit David. He had a studio in the Cour de Rohan that had belonged to Balthus – a beautiful studio. David’s ‘Ingres period’ was in full flow at this point. He was making portraits of other artists who were in Paris, such as Andy Warhol and Jean Leger. And then, of course, me – his dealer. I remember sitting for this portrait as if it were yesterday: it was done in the morning, as the studio was distinctly peaceful then and the light very good. It was very intense - it took about three hours, with very few breaks, although we were both smoking throughout. In the portrait I’m wearing a new suit by the Milanese tailor Domenico Bombino, shoes by New & Lingwood and round tortoise-shell glasses by Cutler and Gross – something of a signature of both David and mine at the time” (Kasmin, January 2019). In this work, as in the other portraits of sitters such as Henry Geldzahler, Andy Warhol and his favoured muse Celia Birtwell, Hockney’s ambition to establish a connection with the European Masters comes markedly to the fore. Classically posed, adroitly translated, and fully rendered, Kasmin is a work of consummate draughtsmanship that belongs to the highest tier of portraits by the artist.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction