David Hockney and my August Painting of the Month

David Hockney has always been fascinated how perspective works and it’s relation to two dimensional representation. So my August painting of the month celebrates his contribution to modern thinking. It is inspired by my visit to the current exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. This self portrait from 2021 is hung next to Hogarth’s portrait of George Arnold. Hockney holds great stock in portraitists revealing the person in the brushwork and admires Hogarth as one of the greats.

David Hockney, Self Portrait, 2021, acrylic on canvas, collection of the artist (on display at Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge), Hockneys Eye
David Hockney, Self Portrait, 2021, acrylic on canvas, collection of the artist (on display at Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge)
William Hogarth, Portrait of George Arnold, 1740, oil on canvas, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Hockneys Eye.
William Hogarth, Portrait of George Arnold, 1740, oil on canvas, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

Hockneys Eye not only looks at how perspective has been addressed over the years in art but exposes how, he believes, the Old Masters created some of the great photo-realistic works. Perspective in two dimensional painting is based on the principle of the vanishing point and was ‘discovered’ in modern times by the Renaissance masters, Brunelleschi, Donatello and Masaccio.

David Hockney, Les Parc de Sources, Vichy, 1970, acrylic on canvas, private collection (on display at Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Hockneys Eye.
David Hockney, Les Parc de Sources, Vichy, 1970, acrylic on canvas, private collection (on display at Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

But Hockney, like others before him such as Ceźanne and Picasso, realised that things just don’t look like a vanishing point image. They believe that because we have two eyes and ability to interpolate time things do not look photographic in reality. That is why painted art with its ‘real’ perspective looks so much truer than a photograph.

David Hockney, 2020 Series, iPad drawing, collection of the artist (on display at Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge), Hockneys Eye
David Hockney, 2020 Series, iPad drawing, collection of the artist (on display at Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge)

Hockney has always avoided photographs in his art but does not deny their value in creating art. He embraces technology and has championed the use of iPad for the creation of artworks. The exhibition also champions his opinion that even the great masters used optical aids such as the camera obscura and camera Lucida. He even uses photographs. It is not cheating – just part of the creative process.

Hockneys Eye is at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, until 29th August. 

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Susie says:

    Love the Hockney portrait. – great exhibition well worth a visit 💕

    Like

  2. Ted Carroll says:

    We also visited the exhibition last month and found it very interesting and informative, particularly the use of the camera Lucida in art.

    Like

    1. Chers Ted. Hope all well with you. I thought the exhibition was really well created and innovative being part of the permanent galleries.

      Like

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