David Hockney Blows Up

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The man who turned the banal Los Angeles swimming pool (and the tanned boys inside them) into a topic worthy of fine art is getting a gargantuan career retrospective. David Hockney is one of a handful of contemporary artists to star in a SUMO book by the art publisher Taschen. Since the company started producing the larger-than-life, limited-edition books in the nineties, they have become a modern-day marker of status—Helmut Newton scored the first SUMO book in 1999. Sebastião Salgado, Annie Leibovitz, Muhammad Ali, and the Rolling Stones have since made the cut. But the Hockney book is especially personal for the publisher’s founder, Benedikt Tashcen, who lives right next door to the seventy-eight-year-old artist off Mulholland Drive in the Hollywood Hills. The longtime friends reportedly collaborated for two years on this project.

Weighing in at seventy-five pounds, the 498-page Hockney tome exhaustively traces the artist’s evolution from British realism to his Saul Steinberg–like pop period to his explosive experiments in cubism. (A multicolored stand designed by Marc Newson helps it aloft. While paging through the oversize, color-soaked pages of this edition, you feel like you’re living with the man—just a bit.

And since the big book is entirely visual, it comes with an additional 680-page book that includes a biography, photos, and drawings to keep the big one company. The publisher is producing only 10,000 copies of the book and vows never to print another. So when you plop down $2,500 for your copy, you might want to keep that in mind. A copy of Helmut’s Newton’s Sumo now sells for upwards of $12,000 on eBay

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