David Hockney bucked the recessionary trend in the art market when Beverly Hills Housewife set a record for his work in New York. While it would be agreeable, if fanciful, to imagine that the work of the Yorkshire-born painter might herald a global economic recovery, the keen competition for his pictures is still gratifying. It shows, first, that Hockney has a rare quality and that quality sells, notwithstanding the economic climate. It shows, second, that Hockney transcends national boundaries, and that a Briton can succeed, triumphantly, in selling a vision of America back to Americans.
His California series fixes the essence of a place and a time; the pictures could be of nowhere else. The same can be said of his British work, including the vast painting, Bigger Trees Near Warter, he recently donated to the Tate. We should hail that gift, but take more notice, too, of an artist who also reflects Britain back to the British in a thoroughly international way.