Object Image

American Collectors (Fred and Marcia Weisman)

One of England’s most versatile and inventive artists of the postwar era, the painter, printmaker, set designer, and photographer David Hockney settled in Los Angeles in 1964. His work since then has often reflected, with wit and incision, the sun-washed flatness of the Southern California environment. Perhaps the most iconic example from a group of double portraits of friends and associates from the 1960s, this large painting depicts contemporary-art collectors Fred and Marcia Weisman in the sculpture garden of their Los Angeles home. As Hockney said, “The portrait wasn’t just in the faces, it was in the whole setting.” As relentlessly stiff and still as the objects surrounding them, the couple stands apart, his stance echoed in the totem pole to the right, hers in the figurative sculpture behind her. Mrs. Weisman’s distorted mouth also mirrors that of the totem pole. Mr. Weisman’s shadow falls possessively over the abstract sculpture at his feet. His hand is clenched so tightly it seems as if he were squeezing paint out of his fist (Hockney deliberately left the drips). Brilliant, raking light flattens and abstracts the scene. This pervasive aridity is reinforced by the segregation of living, green foliage, including the lonely potted tree, to the edges of the painting. Unsurprisingly, the Weismans did not favor Hockney’s harsh portrayal and did not keep the painting.

Credit: Restricted gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frederic G. Pick

Acrylic on canvas
213.4 x 304.8cm
Image © David Hockney, 2019

Text courtesy of Art Institute of Chicago, 2019

Where you'll find this

Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
Permanent collection