Tate Britain Room 5
7 April – 13 April 2008
David Hockney has gifted Bigger Trees near Warter 2007 to Tate. The oil painting, his largest ever, was made on fifty canvas panels and was executed outside, en plein air. Measuring 4.6 x 12.2 metres (15x 40 feet), its subject is a typical Yorkshire landscape, west of Bridlington. The work was first exhibited in 2007 at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. David Hockney has also presented Tate with two digital photographic renderings of the painting on paper sheets in the same dimensions as the oil.
Focusing on the arrival of spring before trees have come into leaf, Bigger Trees near Warter features two copses, a mighty sycamore tree, buildings and a road curving to the left flanked by early flowering daffodils. The work will go on display at Tate Britain in autumn 2009.
Hockney’s ambition to paint such a large-scale canvas posed a problem as it was impossible for him to step back and view the whole work. He began by making drawings and used these to locate where each canvas would fit in the composition. From these a computer-mosaic of the picture was generated enabling him to step back, albeit in a virtual space. Hockney was then able to take the individual canvas panels to the site and thus create his enormous work over a six-week period.
David Hockney said:
‘My picture is adaptable. You can split it in two and show one or both halves, or even a quarter of it. Or show the painting with two full-scale reproductions that would almost make a cloister.’
Commenting on the gift, Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate said:
‘Standing before David Hockney’s Bigger Trees near Warter, the viewer is overwhelmed by the beauty of the winter trees and the energy of the Yorkshire landscape. In this work he has deftly joined together the tradition of painting en plein air with digital technology on a monumental scale. We are delighted he has decided to give this exceptional work to Tate.’
East Yorkshire first engaged Hockney’s imagination as a teenager. As an adult, he has intermittently returned to this part of England when visiting his mother and sister at their home in the coastal town of Bridlington. However, he only became fully absorbed by the landscape over the past four years, making it the primary source of inspiration for his art. Five paintings from David Hockney’s East Yorkshire landscape series were exhibited for the first time in the UK at Tate Britain last June in a display entitled David Hockney: The East Yorkshire Landscape.
There are seven paintings by Hockney in Tate Collection including The First Marriage (A Marriage of Styles I) 1962, acquired as early as 1963, the celebrated A Bigger Splash 1967 and Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy 1970 -71. The Collection also includes many works of paper.
David Hockney was born on 9 July 1937 in Saltaire, Bradford. He graduated from the Bradford School of Art in 1957 and studied at the Royal College of Art from 1959-1962. While there he met RB Kitaj and became instrumental in the founding of the British Pop Art movement. Hockney settled in Los Angeles in 1978. He has been the subject of countless solo exhibitions worldwide including a major touring retrospective held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the Tate Gallery, London in 1988.