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Pearblossom Highway, 11-18th April 1986 No. 2

Artist: David Hockney
Created: 1986
Dimensions (cm): 282.0 x 198.0
Format: Photographic collage
Location: Private collection

Pearblossom Highway, 11-18th April 1986, #2

“Photography is alright, if you don't mind looking at the world from the point of view of a paralyzed Cyclops - for a split second.” – David Hockney

In 1986, David Hockney created a photographic collage titled ‘Pearblossom Highway, 11-18th April 1986, #2’. It is a unique interpretation of his California road trip on a well-known dangerous highway, route 138. The scene not only consists of the driver’s perspective, but of the passenger’s eye view as well.

The right side of the road, which is the driver’s side, has several road signs and the large words ‘stop ahead’ painted on the pavement, indicating the driver’s need to stay alert. Viewers are able to draw some insight into the driving experience. On the left is the passenger’s perspective. The Joshua trees in the sandy desert present a much more relaxing view, one that the passenger can enjoy while looking out the vehicle’s window. This side provides a calming effect. In the forefront of ‘Pearblossom Highway, 11-18th April 1986, #2’, onlookers can make out an assortment of scattered debris such as crushed soda cans, beer bottles, an abandoned container of Castrol motor oil, and an empty case of Bud Light, all of which are relics of travelers who once passed though and left their mark.

David Hockney was so fascinated with this road trip through the Antelope Valley on the outskirts of Los Angeles that he created a meaningful interpretation using over 700 mounted photographs that reveal the formerly barren Mojave Desert. Although Hockney refused to sell the piece for many years, the new plans for the Getty Museum piqued his interest and he finally agreed to part with it. The price for ‘Pearblossom Highway, 11-18th April 1986, #2’ was not released; however, another of Hockney’s artwork of comparative size sold for approximately $2.2 million USD in 1989..


The Getty Museum’s previous museum director John Walsh made the following comment in an L.A. Times’ article entitled “Hockney Makes an Inroad with Pearblossom Hwy” written by Suzanne Muchnic: “…Hockney has manipulated scale to make the picture work better, to make it more real. It’s more real than any view you can have standing there in the desert. That’s what hits you in the stomach.”

‘Pearblossom Highway, 11-18th April 1986, #2’ by artist David Hockney is located at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.


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