Hockney ranks LACMA near top of list for future donations
Although the British painter David Hockney's love affair with California seems mutual, museums here are relatively thin on examples of the artist's strongest work. That just might change, according to an article this month in the Times of London by the paper's arts editor Richard Brooks.
Brooks reports that the 74-year-old artist, who has no children, has set up a foundation that holds works worth around $125 million. And he plans to bequeath some of them to the Tate in London and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, "two museums close to his heart."
"These two galleries have meant the most to me over my lifetime," Hockney told Brooks. "I also think they are the galleries that will look after art and also be around, hopefully, for a very, very long time."
Hockney has given a painting to LACMA once before, shortly after his 1988 retrospective at the museum. For the show, the museum was unable to obtain a loan from a German collector of the 1965 poolside painting "California," so Hockney re-created the work, calling it "California Copied From 1965 Painting in 1987." He then gave this authorized copy to LACMA.
But the gift to come, which Hockney indicated he would start arranging next year, could include earlier work as well. "Over the years I've hung on to a lot of my own paintings, many of them of my family, but others too. So I have quite a number I can give when I decide which ones," he said.
A LACMA spokeswoman said she was not aware of any pending gift. Senior curator of modern art Stephanie Barron had not read the article but described a "rich history" with the artist: "We've probably devoted more solo exhibitions to him than any other contemporary artist in the last 20 years."
So how confident is she that a gift will take place? "I can't say that I've seen any paperwork nor talked to any attorneys, but over the years we've had a lot of discussions about wanting to be a repository," she said.
As for which works might be coming to L.A., Barron said it would be premature to speculate. (She did note that Hockney no longer owns any of his classic so-called splash paintings, like the one shown above.)
"I think he's focusing on the Royal Academy show, which opens in January, before addressing that issue," she said.
Getting to the Heart of Hockney
— Jori Finkel
Image: David Hockney's "A Bigger Splash," 1967, now on view at the Getty in "Crosscurrents," on loan from the Tate. © Tate, London 2010.