It’s worth noting that, although this bills itself as “from the cave to the computer screen”, it is specifically not a history of art, at least not in the academic sense. Rather it is, as the title clearly tells us, all about the image.
Dry, it is not. With David Hockney’s forthright views and Martin Gayford’s lucid writing, it never could be. Both are authorities in their own way and the form of the book is a dialogue that crackles with assertion, expertise and even tension. The process is entirely subjective, which is as it should be. Art is, at its root, not about styles, schools and methods. It’s about getting an image – often a narrative – down on paper or canvas. Even when that image is an avowed record – how that landscape looked on that day, the face of that statesman or the embodiment of that classical tale – there’s always a degree of editorial control. How do those figures relate, how does the light fall on that cottage, are the features in that portrait a little blurred or sharply-defined, implying an aspect of character?
This is billed as a compact edition of the original (paperback, slightly smaller page size) with a revised final chapter that updates the coverage of digital art, of which Hockney is an acknowledged master. It adds three of his new artworks, including the stained glass window at Westminster Abbey that was unveiled in 2018.
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