Father, Son, Holy Ghost, David Hockney

 

by Lisa

Mr. Hockney looking rather pope-like

Dear Mr. Hockney,

       Who died and left you king of Art History? A friend of mine recently loaned me your lovely-to-look-at-but-completely-asinine book, pompously titled Secret Knowledge as if you are the vessel and purveyor of said knowledge. I have asked myself more than once if it was the time of month that the book was given to me that pissed me off disproportionately, or if I would feel this way say, one week from now. Then I remembered seeing the 60 Minutes segment about you and your rather earth shaking discovery a few years ago and how I felt similarly irritated at that time which makes me inclined to dismiss the PMS theory. 

       Let me get this straight. Do you mean to tell me that you actually do not believe that a realistic coat of armor could not be produced by the finest painter in the land without having had the aid of a device that helped the artist “outline” the thing? That it would not be possible to get proper perspective on a rug that had linear lines without optics? That Ingres could not have simply made an error when he drew a woman’s body smaller than her head rather than attributing it to the fact that they took a lunch freaking break and when he came back the camera lucida was in a different position? And Mr. Hockney I canNOT for the life of me understand what you are talking about when you analyse the Vermeer painting of the milkmaid pouring milk when you say the basket in front is “out of focus” whereas the basket in the back is not and that this constitutes proof of the use of optics since the eye does not see that way. The reason I don’t understand this is that the basket in front is NOT “out of focus” leaving me scratching my head going “what is he TALKING about???” I think your eyes are out of focus Mr. Hockney, as are many of your theories. Okay, I will believe that some artists used (and continue to use, wink wink Mr. Hockney) devices to project and scale and help us get a proportionate realistic rendering, but it does not mean it cannot be done any other way. In fact, I have tried it before, and found it to be such an incredible hassle that it did not seem at all worth it to me. I can render just fine without devices thank you.

There are so many instances of this kind of stretch of “secret knowledge” in this book which is gorgeous eye candy but so low on content that I seeth as I read it because it appears a total ruse to sell a book. Now don’t you all run out and buy it and patronize him just because I have peaked your interest here. But next time you’re in the book store, and no one is looking, take a look for yourself. 

Just make sure it’s the right time of the month.

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8 Responses to Father, Son, Holy Ghost, David Hockney

  1. Dianne Mize says:

    Yeah Lisa!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have always thought Mr. Hockney a pompous ass totally wrapped so tightly in his own vision of himself as the art world’s supreme authority, but who is far too shortsighted to have the least perception or understanding about artistic skill and craftsmanship. I wish you could have heard my cheers when I read your piece.

  2. lbtowers says:

    Right on fellow comrade…

  3. Rhonda says:

    Thanks for telling me more about this book and what Mr. H has written – I will save my money for other things. It seems Mr. H. assumes a lot and you know what they say about people who “assume.” :)
    Just enjoy the pictures and don’t read any more of it – don’t want your blood pressure to go up!
    –Rhonda

  4. ivdanu says:

    I’ve actually seen and browsed that book and find it not boring but not far away from that. No interest for me, a man of instinct rather than science… Just like you, I thought it was a kind of pompous and blowing air in “secrets” which were no big secrets at all… and I cannot be influenced by that time of the month, either.

    Ok, his paintings aren’t all bad, he did a lot to impose acrylics in the art world and art market (not always the same thing…) but he’s not the Pope of art, that’s for sure…

  5. Well you did pique my interest a bit, but I’ll have no trouble resisting any urges to order the book. Mr. Hockney should probably get outside and pull weeds once in awhile to get his mind right.

  6. I’ll add to the cheers above. I share your annoyance. Hockney’s pictures are “okay,” so the question he implicitly asks “did the old masters find drawing as difficult to master as I do,” is understandable as a question he would ask … hmm … it’s just his implicit answer that one has to reject. The answer to his question is “no.” “No, Mr. Hockney, they were rather more adept draughtsmen and didn’t need the little devices to help them.” Sadly, he couldn’t figure this out and pounced on his whole camera idea. (“It can’t be me!” “Yes, it can.”) Hockney’s thesis is so filled with inaccuracies that one hardly knows where to begin to set him straight (were that possibly, of course).

    There is a small mote of “truth” in his claim, i.e., that 17th century Dutch artists were interested in optics and used optical devices to achieve effects in their paintings has been well established by Arthur Wheelock of the National Gallery. That Vermeer was influenced by the camera obscura is now a settled fact. What that means, however, is radically different from and more subtle than anything Hockney imagines. (I highly recommend reading Wheelock’s “Vermeer and the Art of Painting.”)
    Hockney’s whole take on the subject is a tepid “history lite,” and whether or not he’s ever really studied the drawings of great artists is a question one finds it charitable not to ask.
    He had his “15 minutes of fame” over his book, but it’s such a fluff book.
    I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it. It’s not worth the trouble.
    Aletha

  7. All the moaning about a painter who carries on no matter what the chat is about is as important as comments for or against in these over descriptive bloggy bitchings. He has changed artists thoughts and perceptions in the past,get over it and get back to your own work.

  8. wrjones says:

    Hackney’s work sucks and so does he (as I understand it).

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