David Hockney, A Bigger Splash, 1967, acrylic on canvas.
This should be a movie still from The Graduate. A classic 60s, clean line house in the background, the breezy Californian palm trees standing tall and a perfectly geometric pool screams the good life of Ben Braddock.
I imagine the splash in the pool belongs to Dustin Hoffman. After a mid-night run in with Mrs. Robinson, he jumped off the diving board as a sort of a re-birth to cleanse his wrong-doings.
Outside of the undeniable resemblance to The Graduate, there is a certain moment that this painting is depicting. This splash in the pool is a fleeting moment where Dustin Hoffman, in our case, jumps in the pool to escape from life for one short second. Unseen by the viewer, the only trace of the person is the big splash. Dramatic.
It’s a childhood dream of ours, that has still stuck with me, to flee when we’ve done something we regret. Even when we simply want to fall off the face of the earth for just a second. Hockney depicts this escape as a splash, in a picturesque setting.
There is also a pop art element to this painting. The symmetrical, contrasting planes of color have a pop art sense that was quickly becoming the art of the moment.
However, there is more depth than in Andy Warhol’s pop art work because of the details and also because it’s not a portrait. It's far from a portrait because their is no visible subject.
A shadow of the neighborhood shines from the mirror-like windows and the empty director’s chair creates a notion that the person jumping in the pool is important. Also, the splash itself has a lyrical dimension as the thin lines almost look like abstract body forms.
Whether that emblematic splash is Dustin Hoffman’s or my own, it’s executed beautifully and, most importantly, portrays that brief instant where we can truly be invisible.