THE HAGUE (AFP) – British artist David Hockney had to be freed by Dutch firefighters from an elevator in Amsterdam as he was about to open a new exhibition of his works.
The 81-year-old, who holds the record for the most expensive painting by a living artist, had been heading down at his hotel late last Wednesday when it suddenly stopped.
Hockney was in Amsterdam for the opening of Hockney-Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature at the Van Gogh Museum, which compares the British legend’s works with those of the Dutch post-impressionist.
In the lift with Hockney was a group of journalists including BBC reporter Jim Naughtie, who later interviewed him.
“We were in there half an hour,” Hockney said.
Asked if he had ever had a similar experience before, Hockney replied, “No, never.”
Naughtie said the lift had “jerked to a halt” and that nothing had happened when they pressed the alarm button.
Eventually – with the help of Geordie Greig, editor of Britain’s Daily Mail tabloid, who was waiting in the lobby – help came in the form of the Amsterdam fire brigade, Naughtie said.
Bottles of water were passed through a gap in the lift door – as well as a folding stool for the elderly Hockney.
Hockney cheerfully posed afterwards for pictures with the Dutch firemen, who gave thumbs-up signs.
An iconic 1972 swimming pool picture by Hockney – Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) – sold for USD90.3 million at Christie’s in New York last November, setting a new auction record for a living artist.
The Amsterdam exhibition examines the similarities between Hockney’s colourful pictures, especially his landscapes of his native Yorkshire, and the vibrant paintings of Dutch master Van Gogh.