Hockney again

Over at studio notebook*, on April 5/04 Carolyn wrote about her reaction to David Hockney’s book Secret Knowledge.

The book is about Hockney’s research into how the Old Masters utilized optics as a tool to create their works. “The thesis I am putting forward here is that from the early fifteenth century many Western artists used optics – by which I mean mirrors and lenses (or a combination of the two) – to create living projections…to my knowledge, no one has suggested that optics were used as widely or as early as I am arguing here.”

Hockney experimented with these processes himself (“The camera lucida is not easy to use” he explains).[…] Over and over he states the use of these tools by no means diminishes the talents of the masters that painted them.

Still his theories have some critics out of their minds. [..] Chuck Close agrees with Hockney though and says of course an artist would take advantage of the available technology. [to] “Close, who paints from photographs of faces, it was self-evident that any artist would use every tool possible to make the job easier even if art historians don’t want to believe it.[…] some people are amazed that their artist heroes have cheated.”

“Good food for thought” indeed. It’s not a new subject though it’s still hotly debated, especially now with the advent of digital technology in photography and other art media. In fact, recently Hockney was in the news complaining about the “death of photography”, which, to me, rather contradicts the statements in his book.

* studio notebook no longer exists, sadly, so link is removed

April 6, 2004 in Digital printmaking, Other artists, Tools and technology by Marja-Leena