A Rediscovered David Hockney Drawing Heads to Auction After 15 Years in Private Hands

The piece shows the view from a bungalow at Los Angeles's luxurious Miramar Hotel.

David Hockney, View from Miramar Hotel, Santa Monica (1970). Courtesy Chiswick Auctions.

A crayon and colored-pencil drawing by David Hockney that has been in private hands for some 15 years will come to the block at London’s Chiswick Auctions next week. Estimated at £200,000–300,000 (about $255,000–380,000), View from Miramar Hotel, Santa Monica (1970) leads the auctioneer’s June 25 Modern British and Irish art sale

The record for a Hockney work on paper was set at Sotheby’s New York last year, when Drawing of a Pool and Towel (1971) sold for $3.1 million against a high estimate of $1.5 million.

View from Miramar Hotel, Santa Monica was first sold via London dealer John Kasmin (father to New York dealer Paul Kasmin). The U.K.-based seller inherited the work in 2009 from their father, who, said the auctioneer, may have bought it from New York’s Knoedler & Co.; the back of the work bears a sticker from the storied gallery.

“View from Miramar Hotel, Santa Monica is undoubtedly an important and beautiful depiction of Hockney’s cherished California,” says James Flower, head of Modern British and Irish art. “The view of the longstanding and iconic Miramar Hotel incorporates many elements, the pacific blue ocean, Hollywood hills, the hotel’s modern architectural design, with palm trees and pool below. The hotel was frequented by the likes of Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe, JFK, Bill Clinton and Jane Fonda to name but a few.”

The artist began to stay in luxury hotels after the success brought by his first Kasmin solo show in 1963, and they became regular subjects in his work. The auctioneer pointed out that the drawing View of the Nile Hilton (1963), also in colored pencil, offers a “template” for this kind of work, followed by renditions of the Grand Hotel Vittel, Hotel Mamounia in Marrakesh, the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok, the Hotel Regina in Venice, the Luxor Hotel in Egypt, and hotels on the Côte d’Azur, Baden-Baden, Japan, and Phoenix, Arizona.

A detail of a David Hockney drawing, showing where the artist wrote out the title

David Hockney, View from Miramar Hotel, Santa Monica (1970), detail. Courtesy Chiswick Auctions.

Hockney had long fantasized about visiting California. Art historian Marco Livingstone pointed out in a catalog essay that this desire was awakened when he noticed the deep shadows in the films of Laurel and Hardy and rightly imagined that the Southern California sun would be much brighter than the wan light of England. He decamped for Los Angeles in 1964, first settling in the neighborhood of Santa Monica, near to the beach. He has lived in Los Angeles on and off ever since and currently keeps a house and studio in the Hollywood Hills. 

The artist would resettle in London in 1968 but made a return visit to L.A. in 1970, staying at the storied Miramar Hotel, which had been converted from a Victorian-period mansion. In the drawing, which measures 17 inches high, one looks out from behind glass doors from a poolside bungalow and through the perforations in the wall of a balcony, beyond which lie palm trees and a swimming pool, with the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains in the distance.

The drawing was completed at a high point for the artist; he had a retrospective at London’s Whitechapel Art Gallery, at the age of just 32, the same year. It has been seen in public just once, in the 1974 show “David Hockney, Paintings and Drawings” at Paris’s Musée des Arts Decoratifs, Palais du Louvre. There, it appeared alongside thematically similar works like the 1972 painting Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), which sold for $90.3 million at Christie’s New York in 2018, making him the most expensive living painter at auction, and A Bigger Splash (1967), now in the Tate’s collection.

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