Lithograph of Water


© David Hockney / SODRAC (2013)

Lithograph of Water Made of Thick and Thin Lines, A Green Wash, A Light Blue Wash, And A Dark Wash
Circa 1980
Image: 66 x 87 cm

Lithograph, 1980, signed in pencil, dated ‘1978 – 80’ and numbered 35/80 (total edition includes 18 artist’s proofs), published by Tyler Graphics, and with their blindstamp, on TGL handmade paper, framed


Scottish Arts Council, David Hockney, Prints, 1954-1977, London 1979, no. 32
Tyler Graphics, David Hockney – Moving Focus Prints, Tate Gallery, London, March-May 1986, no. 245




I love California; everything is so artificial.”

David Hockney


David Hockney’s infatuation with L.A. was love at first sight:

… as I flew over San Bernardino and saw the swimming pools and the houses and everything and the sun, I was more thrilled than I have ever been in arriving in any city, including New York, and when I was there those first six months, I thought it was really terrific, I really enjoyed it and the place really had an effect on me.”[1]

Coming from a working-class background, growing up in Bradford, England, a mid-sized town in West Yorkshire, Hockney first set foot in Los Angeles in 1964, when he was 27 and a recent art school graduate. The laid-back West Coast lifestyle, the warm climate and perpetual sunshine, as well as the exciting homosexual scene on the beaches of Santa Monica mesmerized the young man, and he made California his home until 1968. Stating that “California is always in my mind”, Hockney returned in 1979 to permanently settle in L.A., where he still resides today.


An integral part of the Southern Californian way of life is, of course, the swimming pool, which took center stage in Hockney’s art especially during the 1960s and 70s, the first one appearing in the painting California Art Collector in 1964. Not really considered a luxury item in the warm climate of Southern California, it can be used year-round. Hockney depicted numerous pools in these years, often with attractive young men lounging around them in the nude, and always exploring different ways of representing the constantly changing surface of the water. Using acrylic paint, pen, ink, watercolour and Polaroid collages do create different effects, he  pointed out that his methods of illustrating water were inspired by the abstract paintings of Jean Dubuffet and the pictures of intertwined, meandering lines of British artist Bernard Cohen.

In this Lithograph, dated 1980, Hockney places thick, green and dark blue wavy doodles on a light, translucent turquoise ground, creating the illusion of constant movement and reflection on the water’s surface. A white spring board is jutting out over the pool, casting a crooked shadow on its white tiled wall and ground in the harsh sunlight.


Swimming pools I’ve always liked as things. I like swimming in blue swimming pools in sunny Hollywood. But water is done in quite different ways. Sometimes I did it very formally, other times it’s done more naturalistically… the way the light would dance on the water. And really the paintings about water are about movement aren’t they?”[2]


[1] David Hockney, interviewed by Martin Glazebrook: Exhibition Catalogue, London, The Whitechapel Art Gallery, David Hockney paintings, prints and drawings, 1960-1970, 1970, p. 11

[2] David Hockney  interviewed byMartin Glazebrook: Exhibition catalogue, London, The Whitechapel Art Gallery, op. cit., 1970, p. 13


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