A Bigger Splash by David Hockney

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David Hockney: A Renowned British Artist

David Hockney is a renowned British artist who is famous for having painted the legendary artwork, "A bigger splash." The original measurements of the pop art painting are 242.5 centimeters by 243.9 centimeters. The picture portrays a large swimming pool that has been disturbed by a big splash by an unseen figure that has since entered the pool and is hence hidden from the eyes of the viewer. The swimming pool is located in the frontal part of a modern house. The picture is located in California and was created at approximately between the months of April and June in the year 1967 a duration in which Hockney was in the University of Berkley California.

The Medium and Palette

The medium for Hockney's painting is a white cotton duck canvas. The paint was mainly made from acrylic Liquitex so as to bring out the colors vividly and create a sense of stress and emphasis on the picture. The palette that is used in the picture is limited and it comprises of a combination of many distinct elements. Ultramarine blue, burnt sienna, raw sienna, hooker's green and Naples yellow are some of the components that were combined to form a desired tint for the painting. The painting was done with a flat roller and hence most of the strokes were even with the exception of the splash that was painted with a repetition of layers. On the background, features such as the grass, the reflection, and the tree were also overpainted so as to emphasize their presence and appearance to otherwise overshadowing tint (Hamilton, A bigger splash: More a dump squib than a big splash). While the splash was overpainted by using a variety of brushes and strokes the narrow strips that appear at the edge of the pool are left unpainted. The painting has created a link between Hockney's earlier paintings of stillness and the joiner photographs that included many photographs that are collected over a certain duration.

Lines and Form

The lines that are used in the painting are a mixture of both horizontal and vertical lines all which are structured in such a way as to create a form of stability and repetition in the picture. According to Hockney (68), the pool, on the other hand, uses different combinations of lines which are mostly curvy and hence depict the nature of the activity by creating an unstable motion. The picture is predominantly 2 dimensional as the artist painted it through a frontal view that further exhibit's a sense of "naturalism."

Depicting a California Scene

Hockney's painting "A bigger splash" depicts a typical outdoor day in California which features a blue cloudless sky an indication of the warm climate as opposed to what Hockney was accustomed to in England. In the background, there are 2 tall palm trees which are behind a single storied building that has sliding doors. In front of the sliding doors is an empty director's chair, an indication that it is a place of leisure. The reflection on the sliding doors and the shadow which is just beneath the director's chair each indicate that the time of the caption in the painting is likely to be midday. The "A bigger splash" painting further depicts Hockney's lifestyle of art and his affiliation with the pop culture. Basing on most of Hockney's painting, the big splash was a simple painting that was meant to capture the temporal nature of the exotic events in life (Van de Walle, Modern classics: David Hockney-A bigger splash). Through a symbol of the splash which lasts only temporarily, Hockney managed to capture the attention of the late 1960s and 70s as people were more conservative and hence had not explored certain elements of art and creativity (Wood 115).

A Sense of Freedom and Relaxation

In a different interpretation, the painting gives a sense of freedom and relaxation other than creativity. From the iconic style and the uniqueness of the paints and materials that were used in the painting, there is a lot of liberty and creativity which speaks volumes of the intentions of Hockney as the painter (Howgate, Sarah and Shapiro 238). Hockney's life was controversial as he has entangled in homosexuality claims a factor which he gradually incorporated in most of his works. The setting of the painting and the theme exhibit a form of liberty, prestige and even class. The setting equally emphasizes the point of freedom as evidenced by the act of jumping into the pool.

An Iconic Pop Culture Piece

David Hockney's "A bigger splash" was painted on white cotton duck canvas and the picture captures a swimming pool located in front of a modern house. The swimming pool has a diving board and there is a splash emphasizing that there was someone in the water although concealed. The tone of the painting and the brushes used varied as there was an emphasis in some places as opposed to others. The paints used were mainly acrylic and hence varied from Naples yellow to ultramarine blue. The main theme and emphasis of the picture are that of a pop culture a movement which was common and rampant in the late 1960s when the painting was created. David's Hockney's painting "A bigger splash" remains to be iconic in the current day due to its ingenious creativity and blend of colors.

Works cited

Hamilton Adrian. A bigger splash: More a dump squib than a big splash. Independent, 2012. Retrieved from https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/a-bigger-splash-more-a-damp-squib-than-a-big-splash-8307202.html?pageToolsFontSize=300%25

Hockney, David, and Paul Melia. David Hockney. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995.

Howgate, Sarah, and Shapiro B. Stern. David Hockney Portraits: [exhibitions], Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 26 February-14 May 2006; Los Angeles, County Museum of Art, 26 February-14 May 2006; National Portrait Gallery, London, 12 October 2006-21 January 2007. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

Van de Walle Josephine. Modern classics: David Hockney-A bigger splash, 1967. Artlead (2016). Retrieved from http://artlead.net/content/journal/modern-classics-david-hockney-bigger-splash-1967/

Wood, Catherine. A Bigger Splash: Painting After Performance. London: Tate Publishing, 2012. (115)

August 01, 2023


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