Home Artworks Celia Smoking



Celia Smoking



99 x 72.5 cm
39 x 28.54 in







Lithograph on Angoumois handmade wove paper. Signed and dated ‘David Hockney 73’ lower right, titled lower centre, numbered from the edition 23/70 lower left, in pencil (there were also 17 proofs). Published by Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles (with blindstamps). Printed by James Webb at Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles
Image & Sheet: 99 x 72.5 cm (39 x 28.5 inches)
Literature: Gemini 23.22; Scottish Arts Council 146; Waddington 46

Provenance: Private Collection, U.K.

David Hockney created the present work, Celia Smoking, in 1973. For this exquisite lithograph, Hockney had depicted a portrait of Celia Birtwell, his long-term friend and muse. Birtwell is pictured seated, and Hockney has depicted an almost photographic level of detail in her face and hair. Captured through much softer, subtle lines, Birtwell is seen to be holding a cigarette in her left hand.
After meeting at Portobello Market in the early 1960s, Hockney and Birtwell immediately struck up a close friendship. A textile designer from Greater Manchester, Birtwell soon became Hockney’s muse, and she has since sat for the artist over eighty times. Originating from the same period as the present work, Birtwell features in one of Hockney’s most famous paintings, Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy (1971), where she is depicted alongside her then-husband, Ossie Clark (below). However, Birtwell has revealed that it is Hockney’s pencil drawings of her from 1973-75 that she favours, describing that “just like perfume can transport you to another place, looking at them takes me right back to that moment when we were still so young” (Birtwell, quoted in House & Garden, August 2016).
These drawings that Birtwell describes were created in Paris, shortly after Hockney relocated there in 1973. In a flurry of eight works, Hockney depicted Birtwell in both coloured and monochromatic crayon, and produced two lithographs – including the present work. Birtwell is usually depicted either seated or lying down for these works – emphasising the close and casual nature of their friendship – and close attention has been paid to the print and cut of her clothing. Hockney could be very particular with what he preferred Birtwell to wear, and, for the present
work, he has captured her in a patterned garment of her own creation.
Hockney’s practice in the early 1970s was remarkably diverse. Having recently earned a ‘celebrity’ status in the late 1960s for his notorious paintings of Californian swimming pools, Hockney continued to produce these naturalist paintings, along with large-scale portraits of friends, and Japanese-inspired works. Hockney was known for his impulsive flair, and in 1972 he completely reworked his Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), completing it the night before the painting was due to be exhibited in New York.
Hockney’s printmaking during this period was equally varied. Introduced to lithography in 1965, Hockney proceeded to explore this medium in great depth. Lured back to the warm climate of California, Hockney began working at the Gemini studio in 1971, and produced prints here for over twenty years. It was at this studio that Hockney established a professional relationship with master printmaker Ken Tyler. In early 1973 (Tyler’s final year at Gemini) the pair collaborated on Hockney’s outstanding series of prints, The Weather Series– inspiredby Japanese woodcuts. Shortly afterwards, Hockney depicted Tyler for a lithograph, The Master Printer of Los Angeles (1973). The pair collaborated again in the same year for the present work, which was supervised and proofed by Tyler. Created during a prolific period of his career, Hockney’s lithographs from the 1970s are amongst the artist’s most accomplished and desirable works.

1937 Bradford, United Kingdom

David Hockney was a student at the Royal College of Art in London. Hockney was featured in the 1961 edition of the annual Young Contemporaries exhibition at Whitechapel Art Gallery, which heralded the arrival of the new Pop aesthetic in the UK. In 1964 he moved to from London to Los Angeles and began painting scenes of Southern California life – rolling hills, swimming pools and modernist architecture – that were often infused with homoerotic themes. He also focused on landscape, in paintings, collages made with Polaroid, mural-scaled horizontal format landscapes and stage sets. Hockney has continued to investigate the relationship between perception and space as well as technology in a series of iPad drawings. A major retrospective of his work organized by the Tate Britain, the Centre Pompidou and the Metropolitan Museum acknowledged the artist’s long career, which continues. Still active at age 80, the artist is represented in major collections around the world including notable holdings by the British Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Hayward Gallery. For those collecting Hockney the market remains positive. According to Sotheby’s Mei Moses, the average compound annual return for Hockney resold at auction between 2003 and 2017 was 10.7% and 80.8% of 52 such works increased in value. 

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