Pearblossom Hwy., 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..

2 responses to “Pearblossom Hwy., 11-18th April 1986, #2

  1. Wow, that brings back memories! We lived in the Angeles National Forest right around the time my son was born. Pearblossom Highway was one of two ways we could get out of the mountains and into civilization. I remember hot, winding, dusty drives just like that, trying to find something that might pass for “town.”

    • lovely, southern Cali is a bit of a endless strip mall, I lived in Santa Barbara for a while doing analytic training and evenings strolling under palms trees between the mountains and the sea I could never shake the feeling that I was walking in a postcard and that one good rain could wash the whole place into the Pacific…

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