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David Hockney double portrait

David Hockney double portrait to head Christie’s auction March 6

David Hockney double portrait
David Hockney’s monumental 1969 portrait of Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott. Estimate: in excess of £30 million/$37.8 million. Christie’s image

LONDON – Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction on March 6 will be led by David Hockney’s 1969 portrait of Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott, from the collection of Barney A. Ebsworth (estimate in excess of £30 million/$37.8 million).

Standing among Hockney’s most celebrated works, Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott will mark a fitting conclusion to the collection of Barney A. Ebsworth, which has thus far achieved a running total of $323.5 million. The painting will be unveiled and on view in New York from Feb. 8-12 before going on view in London from March 2-6.

Marc Porter, chairman of Christie’s Americas, remarked: “It is an honor to present Hockney’s double portrait of Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott, which is not only an extraordinary example from the artist’s most celebrated series, it is also a poignant representation of one of the 20th century’s greatest curators. Hockney captured Geldzahler at a particularly decisive moment when the curator was organizing his most revolutionary exhibition. Officially titled “New York Painting and Sculpture: 1940-1970,” the exhibition received such a high degree of fanfare that it would soon become universally known as Henry’s Show. 2019 will mark the 50th anniversary of that survey, which would ultimately alter the course of both Geldzahler’s career and art history as we now know it, making the sale of this painting extremely timely. Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott was among Barney Ebsworth’s most treasured works of art and marks one of the rare exceptions to Mr. Ebsworth’s rule of only acquiring the work of American artists. The stunning success that this collection has achieved thus far, speaks to the collector’s remarkable eye for quality, and this work absolutely epitomizes that.”

Katharine Arnold, Head of Evening Sale, Post-War and Contemporary Art, Christie’s London, continued: “David Hockney’s double portraits are undoubtedly some of the finest paintings the artist ever realized. Created on a 7-by-10-foot format, these paintings invite the viewer to enter the intimate settings of some of Hockney’s closest friends. In Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott, we meet the celebrated curator and his partner in their Seventh Avenue apartment in New York City. What strikes me as extraordinary is Hockney’s use of naturalistic technique. Here Hockney has mastered paint to conjure up glass in four different ways: the glass window looking out onto the cityscape, Geldzahler’s neat reading spectacles, the modern glass table with a beautiful glass vase of tulips. Reflection, transparency and light are Hockney’s subjects.  Structured like a devotional triptych, the intimately observed composition comprises a blush pink Art Deco sofa from Geldzahler’s living room, the view from Scott’s study, the glass table from Hockney’s studio in London and the signature vase of tulips, often interpreted as symbolizing the artist himself. An unspoken narrative exists between the two lovers, which adds the element of human drama so characteristic of Hockney’s greatest work. Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott will appear at auction for the first time since 1992 and follows the record set for Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) in New York in November.”