Press Release

30 Sunflowers by David Hockney to Lead Hong Kong Contemporary Art Evening Sale in July 2020

By Sotheby's
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One of the Most Extraordinary and Significant Masterpieces from Hockney’s Visionary Oeuvre
A Radiant, Deeply Poignant and Timeless Still Life Suffused with Tradition and Transformation
First Major Hockney Painting to Appear at Auction in Asia

S otheby’s is proud to present David Hockney’s 30 Sunflowers from 1996, one of the most extraordinary and significant masterpieces from the artist’s visionary oeuvre, at the Hong Kong Contemporary Art Evening Sale, taking place on 9 July in Hong Kong. Created at a pivotal moment in both the personal life and professional career of the artist, 30 Sunflowers is a magnificent update of the classic still life for contemporary times, bearing strong reminiscence to Vincent van Gogh’s iconic Sunflowers while articulating an unabashedly radical yet intimately personal approach. Unseen in the market for almost a decade, the radiant, exuberant, and deeply poignant 30 Sunflowers is the supreme quintessence of Hockney’s mature artistic output that powerfully establishes him as one of the greatest figurative painters of the twentieth century.

30 Sunflowers will be unveiled at Sotheby’s London on 7 – 11 February. The work will then tour from Los Angeles to Jakarta, Hong Kong, and Taipei prior to leading the Hong Kong Contemporary Art auction series this Spring.

David Hockney, 30 Sunflowers, 1996, oil on canvas, 182.9 x 182.9 cm
Estimate upon request

We are deeply honoured to present 30 Sunflowers, a singularly important masterpiece by one of the most established artists of our time, as the first major Hockney painting to appear at auction in Asia. Following our record-breaking sales in October, especially our success with Western Contemporary art, bringing 30 Sunflowers to Asia attests to Hong Kong’s status as a truly global platform for the Contemporary genre. Having witnessed substantial interest in Hockney amongst Asian collectors in our international sale locations, this was a natural move for us. The flower still life is furthermore a popular motif for Asian audiences, and we are thrilled to present this masterpiece in our upcoming Spring auctions.
Yuki Terase, Head of Contemporary Art, Asia of Sotheby’s

Visionary Masterpiece Suffused with Tradition and Transformation

Executed in 1996, on the brink of Hockney's sixtieth year, 30 Sunflowers marks the epitome of the artist’s return to figurative painting after a decade primarily immersed in photography. The year prior, Hockney had attended exhibitions of paintings by Monet and Vermeer in Chicago and The Hague respectively. Emerging revitalised, he commenced a series of around twenty-five flower still-life paintings with renewed intensity, applying unprecedented attention to creating nuanced, modulated tonalities, masterfully choreographing light and pigment, and adeptly commanding techniques of space, perspective, and illusion.

An Intimate Masterpiece in Epic Proportions

Featured on the cover of the catalogue for Hockney’s memorable “Flowers, Faces and Spaces” exhibition in 1997, 30 Sunflowers stands out as a masterpiece of imposing scale, arresting and intricate composition with the greatest number of sunflowers, as well as sheer incredible richness of colour and texture. It is categorically the most superior painting not just within the series but within Hockney’s entire mature artistic output. A glowing exaltation of light, space, colour and form refracted through the lens of art history and suffused with personal meaning and transformation, 30 Sunflowers is a definitive masterpiece from Hockney's body of work that powerfully encapsulates both splendour and brutality, celebrating ravishing beauty as well as the delicacy and transience of life.

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