Understanding David Hockney’s A Bigger Splash

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David Hockney A Bigger Splash (1967)

The David Hockney work depicts a splash in a Californian swimming pool.  In fact, the most famous painting by David Hockney, A Bigger Splash is not his only painting of a swimming pool.

The British artist visited California in the early 1960s and fell in love with the bright colors and easy-going lifestyle. A bigger splash by David Hockney’s work reflected his newfound love for the fresh and bright California sun.

David Hockney’s A Bigger Splash is deceptively minimalist. In fact, the artist planned out every shape and color to the last detail. Hockney`s Bigger Splash shows the artist’s play with the rationalism of geometric art and its stylistic antithesis, embodied in expressionism.

It wasn’t just the California sun and lifestyle that influenced Hockney. Despite its enticing depiction of a dream place, A Bigger Splash isn’t just about that. According to Hockney, the real story is a fraction of a second of the splash itself, frozen on the canvas.

David Hockney painted the picture from a photograph of a splash taken by someone else. later commented that he spent much more time painting the splash than the house behind it, even though the splash lasts two seconds and the building is permanently there. This contradiction fascinated him.

David Hockney used acrylic paint on white cotton duck canvas to paint A Bigger Splash. David Hockney was one of the first artists who made extensive use of acrylic.

David Hockney left a wide border around the image unpainted. David Hockney left a wide border around the image unpainted.  This indicates the boundary of the Polaroid photograph, possibly hinting that he used photographs as a source for A Bigger Splash painting.

Hockney is constantly exploring the different possible ways to depict the world around us, and looks at how other artists from different times and places have done this. He sees himself as a researcher as much as an artist.

 The canvas created in 1967 is currently exhibited at the Tate Gallery in London.

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