To an artist born and bred in the harsh North of England, the glow of California sunshine that brightened David Hockney’s Los Angeles home must have truly inspired creativity. Painted in 1988, the same year as the artist’s first critically acclaimed U.S. retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Montcalm Interior with 2 Dogs is an exceptional example of the rich color palette, complex compositional structure and intimately significant subject matter that characterize the artist’s most iconic masterpieces.
Hockney purchased his home on Montcalm Avenue in the Hollywood Hills area of Los Angeles in the summer of 1979. The home would feature prominently in a number of the artist’s most iconic paintings of the late 1980s. Residing in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is the sister painting to Montcalm Interior with 2 Dogs entitled Large Interior, Los Angeles from the same year. Large in scale, both paintings depict Hockney’s high-ceilinged living room, bursting with vibrant colors and dazzling swaths of pattern.
Though highly personal in nature – a tender depiction of the artist’s own home featuring his beloved pet dachshunds – Montcalm Interior with 2 Dogs is also evocative of the kind of brushwork and use of color characteristic of the post-Impressionists and Van Gogh in particular. Hockney flattens space, enhancing the emotional and physical immediacy of the picture. Adorning the walls of the living room are a series of works the artist executed years earlier, rendered playfully here, Hockney pictures in a Hockney painting. The viewer is drawn toward the sunlit space and open chairs as if a welcome guest, blurring the line between reality and memory, rendering not just pictorially, but emotionally, the very feeling of being home.