On October 29th, art lovers and spectators gathered for a Thursday night of gallery-hopping and wine-drinking on 25th Street in West Chelsea. At least 1,500 of those onlookers came to the Pace Wildenstein Gallery to see an exhibit by celebrated British artist David Hockney, which opened that night. The 6 pm opening was anticipated by Hockney fans and art lovers, for it was the artist’s first exhibit in over 12 years.
“We’re so fortunate and proud that an artist of Hockney’s stature is showing here,” said Jay Grimm, Director of Pace Wildenstein in Chelsea. “Thursdays are already so crowded in the area, but people are really excited for this show in particular,” he added. Pace Wildenstein, with a location uptown as well, is known as one of the major art galleries in New York City, and represents a select lineup of famous artists including Sol Lewitt and Robert Rauschenberg.
David Hockney’s current exhibit is of particular importance to the gallery though, mainly because this is the first work he has shown to the public since 1996. What’s more is the aesthetic of his new work – bright, bold colors, and this time around, not of human portraits, but of forests and foliage. “I love it. I was nervous to see what he had to give us, but the forest motif combined with the use of outrageous color is perfect,” said Lynn, a 40-something art lover and admirer of the artist. “Hockney is such a stylish man, in and out of his art, so I’m not surprised,” she added.
The expansive walls of the gallery space were plastered with Hockney’s paintings at least 10 feet high and 15 feet wide – the biggest and most ambitious of his career. Hockney, 72, best known for his portraiture work, has departed from his typical style and entered the realm of seasonal landscape art. Each canvas is actually a composite of smaller canvases, making up one large and lush painting.
The paintings, with surrealist undertones, are said to illustrate Hockney’s surroundings near his home – he now resides in a summer seaside resort on the North Sea coast of Bridlington, England.
“The artist is nearly deaf and big crowds with lots of noise is just too much,” said Grimm, when asked if the artist was going to attend his opening.
The show continues to draw crowds three weeks in to the exhibit’s debut. “We anticipate lots of people, but the turn out so far has been incredible. In the 25th Street location alone, we’ve had over 12,000 viewers,” says Lauren Staub, Public Relations Associate for the gallery. The exhibit will be on display to the public until Christmas Eve.