David Hockney, ‘Caribbean Tea Time’, 1987, Phillips

Property of an Important Private Collector

This work is artist's proof 3 from an edition of 36 plus 10 artist's proofs.

From the Catalogue:
One of the most daring and monumental projects undertaken by David Hockney, Caribbean Tea Time presents a stunning large-scale lithograph partitioned onto four panels of a folding screen. Completed in 1987, this incisive work depicts four wicker chairs around a table and tea set in an arcaded veranda with an imaginative geometric pattern speckling the reverse side of the screen. As an innovative artist inclined to careful observation, Hockney incorporates a myriad of influences and interests into this work, from his exploration of the mechanics of vision - including stylistic allusions to late Cubism and his own stage designs and photographic collages. With a strong artistic relationship to the opera, having designed sets beginning in 1975 for Glyndebourne, the Metropolitan Opera and the Royal Opera House, Hockney’s smooth transition from traditional canvas to folding screen speaks volumes about his ability to push the limits of depicting the complexities of a three-dimensional world through two-dimensional art forms.

A masterwork by arguably the most influential and accomplished British artist of the 20th century, the leisurely scene of Caribbean Tea Time unfolds to encapsulate the artist’s celebrated use of bright colours akin to the heightened palette of Fauvism. This work depicts a distinct departure from Hockney’s iconic pictures from the 1960s of the backyards and shimmering pools of Los Angeles. In contrast to the bleached desert tones of the artist’s libertine Californian terrains, the present lot embodies the behavior of light and colours specific to the tropical climate of the islands surrounding the Caribbean Sea. Caribbean Tea Time illustrates the lucidity and richness of colors in an equatorial region of the world where light interacts differently with increased humidity in the environment. As such, jewel tones such as the amethyst cushions of the amber wicker chairs, the sapphire body of rippling water, ruby geometric shapes and emerald arches framing the work, add a lushness and playful quality to this scene.

Caribbean Tea Time exemplifies the artist’s devotion to portraying lived experience and his belief that representational painting expresses reality and perception with greater success than photorealist painting or even photography itself. Hockney explains that there is an “attitude to space and time” in his work; he asserts, “time is elastic. And I play with that idea” (David Hockney, “I Like to Live in the Now,” TateShots, December 20, 2016). In Caribbean Tea Time, Hockney illustrates the arms and legs of each wicker chair with an energy and sense of movement suggesting the presence of the space’s occupants without actually rendering human figures. With the implementation of a Cubistic approach to perspective, the artist further breaks from the notion of time as linear and from the restraints of a single vanishing point. In posing a challenge to the accepted narrative of Western art, Hockney utilises “reverse perspective,” a concept elaborated by Pavel Florensky in his 1920 essay of the same title. Hockney agrees with Florensky that the shifting viewpoints and absence of correct perspective of 14th-15th century Russian icons as well as Egyptian and Chinese art was not a mistake but rather a deliberate choice. Caribbean Tea Time thus showcases Hockney’s seamless combination of several perspectives to render a greater fullness and spaciousness in his works than real life.

The mastery of colour and reverse perspective in Caribbean Tea Time attests to David Hockney’s longstanding position as one of the most recognisable and lauded artists in the world who is still active today. The artist has been honoured in his 80th year with a major retrospective presenting his most iconic works from the past six decades of his career. Since February of 2017, this exhibition has travelled from Tate Britain, London, to The Centre Pompidou, Paris, and will complete its yearlong journey at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.
Courtesy of Phillips

Signature: signed and numbered "AP III/X David Hockney" to the lower edge of the right collage panel

Tokyo, Museum of Contemporary Art, David Hockney Prints, 1954-1995, 10 October - 15 December 1996, no. 288, p. 160 (another example illustrated)
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Highlights from the Modern Design Collection: 1900 to the Present, 23 June 2009 - 1 May 2011 (another example illustrated)

Marco Livingstone, "David Hockney: Portrait of a Humanist with Artistic Devices", in Art & Design, vol. 4, no. 1/2-1998, p. 19 (another example illustrated)
David Hockney, That’s the Way I See It, London, 1993, p. 153 (another example illustrated)

Private Collection, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner

About David Hockney

A pioneer of the British Pop Art movement in the early 1960s alongside Richard Hamilton, David Hockney gained recognition for his semi-abstract paintings on the theme of homosexual love before it was decriminalized in England in 1967. In We Two Boys Clinging Together (1961), red-painted couples embrace one other while floating amidst fragments from a Walt Whitman poem. After moving to California at the end of 1963, Hockney began painting scenes of the sensual and uninhibited life of athletic young men, depicting swimming pools, palm trees, and perpetual sunshine. Experimenting with photography in the mid-1970s, Hockney went on to create his famous photocollages with Polaroids and snapshot prints arranged in a grid formation, pushing the two-dimensionality of photography to the limit, fragmenting the monocular vision of the camera and activating the viewer in the process. A versatile artist, Hockney has produced work in almost every medium—including full-scale opera set designs, prints, and drawings using cutting-edge technology such as fax machines, laser photocopiers, computers, and even iPhones and iPads.

British, b. 1937, Bradford, United Kingdom, based in Yorkshire, United Kingdom