The price of 'Greatness': Hockney's pyramid painting goes to auction
This February, Christie's post-war and contemporary art department will put David Hockney's landmark painting, 'Great Pyramid at Giza with Broken Head from Thebes' (1963), up for auction.
The painting was produced during Hockney's first visit to Egypt at the age of 26 shortly after his graduation from the Royal College of Art. It is a significant piece in Hockney's portfolio because it represents the only surviving canvas from his 1963 trip to Egypt, which was sponsored by the Sunday Times and David Sylvester.
Hockney was enchanted with Egypt. He developed an obsession with the country when he encountered ancient Egyptian art at the British Museum and in Berlin. He was also impressed by the poetry of Greek Alexandrian poet Constantine P. Cavafy.
Francis Outred, Christie's head of post-war & contemporary art for Europe, described the landmark painting as follows:
"At the centre of the composition we find a single hieratic palm tree sprouting up towards the pinnacle of the geometric pyramid at Giza. The style of the painting is unmistakably Hockney, the artist breaking up the foreground with a piece of piping, forming a stark contrast to the broken Head of Thebes lying buried in the sand. In doing so, the artist was drawing a clear link between ancient and modern, the human and natural landscape."
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