Woldgate Woods, 24, 25, and 26 October 2006 by David Hockney

In 6 parts.


Throughout 2006, Hockney executed a limited series of paintings of the Woldgate Woods in his native Yorkshire, charting the changes in light and colour as the seasons passed. Limited by the size of the canvas he was able to fit through the staircase at his Bridlington studio, he devised a method of using multiple canvases in order to achieve the desired scale. Woldgate Woods, 24, 25 and 26 October 2006, capturing the autumnal colors of East Yorkshire, is composed using six of these canvases. The huge public and critical success of this body of work has led to this quiet corner in the north east of England becoming known as ‘Hockney Country’, with the local tourist board even creating a Hockney Trail inspired by the locations immortalized in the series.
[https://www.artmarketmonitor.com/2016/09/30/massive-hockney-yorkshire-landscape-on-offer-for-9-12m-at-sothebys-in-november/]


“The paintings [Hockney] has made of the Wolds between 2005 and the end of 2008 are in purely technical terms—but also in their observational accuracy and evocation of space—the most commanding he has ever made.” Marco Livingstone in Exh. Cat., Schwäbisch Hall, Kunsthalle Würth, David Hockney / Nur Natur / Just Nature, 2009, p. 188

“Around Bridlington, I was painting the land, land that I myself had worked. I had dwelt in those fields, so that out there, seeing, for me, necessarily came steeped in memory.” the artist in conversation with Lawrence Weschler in Exh. Cat., Venice, California, L.A. Louver Gallery, David Hockney: Hand Eye Heart, 2005, p. 45

An extraordinary feat of painterly triumph, David Hockney’s Woldgate Woods, 24, 25, and 26 October 2006 is remarkably vast in its ambition and purely resplendent in execution. Here, Hockney tranforms the bucolic North of England into something visionary: an Edenic panorama of chromatic wonder that radiates with pure ebullience. Rising from a densely speckled ground of golden amber leaves, Hockney’s richly painted trees erupt with lush green foliage beneath a crisp blue sky, intensely conjuring the physical sensation of being in the beloved landscape the artist has known since his youth. The significance of this key work has been repeatedly recognized through its inclusion in several of Hockney’s recent major exhibitions, including the pivotal survey of his landscapes, David Hockney: A Bigger Picture, at the Royal Academy in London in 2012 (which later travelled to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the Museum Ludwig in Cologne) and David Hockney: Nur Natur/ Just Nature at Kunsthalle Würth. Painted when Hockney was entering an unprecedented period of creative re-invention to coincide with the seventh decade of his life, Woldgate Woods, 24, 25, and 26 October 2006 reflects a painter at the very height of his artistic confidence. Indeed, Hockney’s renown as Britain’s greatest living painter will only be further cemented with the opening of his comprehensive career retrospective at the Tate Britain in February 2017.

Woldgate Woods, 24, 25, and 26 October 2006 belongs to a group of nine monumental 6-panel paintings of the same vista, captured in its varied appearance over the course of the changing seasons. The Wolds is a vast pocket of agricultural land between York and the seaside town of Bridlington; not obtruded by industry or development, and always used exclusively as farmland, Hockney refers to this landscape as “the least changed bit of England that I know.” ... Hockney first came to know this small pocket of Yorkshire when he was around 15 years of age, having spent his summer holidays of 1952 and 1953 collecting corn on a local farm between the villages of Wetwang and Huggate. Less immediately spectacular in appearance than West Yorkshire—a region visited and painted by the great landscape painters of the 19th century such as J.M.W. Turner and John Varley—the agrarian undulating knolls always held a special attraction in Hockney’s heart. Although Hockney remained fond of these gentle hills and dense forest coves, it was not until his 60th year that he came to study them with a renewed vigor and interest. It was the tragic combination of his mother’s advancing age and the ill health of his close friend Jonathan Silver that drew Hockney back to the Wolds. Every three months he would return to this small area of East Yorkshire and take his mother for long drives across the countryside, magnifying his intense affection for the landscape. In the summer of 1997, Hockney embarked on a small group of oil paintings that were driven by the accumulated sensations of these habitual journeys. Although vivid enough to be evocative of direct observation, these works made recourse to the overarching simplifications and generalizations of memory, and are very different to his most iconic and celebrated Yorkshire landscapes that he commenced nearly a decade later in 2005. Entirely undisturbed by time, the landscape of the Wolds is one that has remained changeless since Hockney’s youth; it is this long-term stasis of the land that made the cyclical changes in climate and season all the more poignant for the artist....

Perspective and the representation of space in two dimensions has remained a crucial interest and curiosity of Hockney’s since the early 1960s. In Hockney’s Woldgate Woods, 24, 25, and 26 October 2006, the artist frames an ambitiously exaggerated, widened vantage point, wrestling with the authority of one-point perspective.....
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