Archive for category Author: David Hockney

David Hockney: Current

There’s almost no end of books about David Hockney, up to and including the impressive and impressively-priced A Bigger Book. Hockney’s output over a long career is vast and any compilation can only be a selection at best. It’s largely a question of choosing the one that includes the most of what you like and has a quality of reproduction that will satisfy.

This, which was originally published to accompany an exhibition of the same title at the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia, is one of the best and most comprehensive for the period it covers, the last decade, which is described as “a profound turning point in [Hockney’s] exceptional sixty-year career”. As is usual, a few earlier works are included where they are necessary to provide perspective.

The quality of reproduction is first class and, with 2,036 illustrations, you’re not going to feel short-changed on that front. The curation is good too, with sections organised by theme: iPad works, Yosemite, The Arrival of Spring (selections from the 2012 RA show), the multipoint perspective works, the complete 82 Portraits & 1 Still Life and a full catalogue raisonné of the iPhone and iPad drawings. Each section is headed by an essay considering its topic in some depth and followed by a listing of the works included. I was fascinated to discover that the figure of Peter Schlesinger in Portrait of An Artist (pool with two figures) is based on an earlier photomontage (which is shown here).

There are drawbacks. The illustrations in the iPhone/Pad section are necessarily small and some of the detail is lost. Also, although the lists of works are keyed to page numbers, you need to do a considerable amount of jumping about in a heavy book to find titles. The reverse of that coin, of course, is that the plates themselves are uncluttered and without distractions.

Despite those very small reservations, this is an excellent book and is certainly one for my core library. I’d choose it, I think, over the catalogue for the 2017 Tate retrospective, in spite of the broader scope that has. At £45, it’s amazing value, too!

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A History of Pictures || David Hockney & Martin Gayford

I’ve had this sitting on the shelf for several weeks and it’s been daring me to write about it. It’s become something of a cause célèbre since its publication both because Hockney’s views are authoritative and also because they are trenchant.

I have to say at the outset that this comes close to the book I’ve been hoping Hockney would produce. His views on art can be controversial, but he has a fundamental understanding of ways of seeing that are at once intuitive and convincing. His work with both still and moving photography adds a dimension rarely found and (naturally) completely missing before the middle of the Nineteenth Century. His ability to manipulate perspective while retaining a single viewpoint is one of the most original ideas there has been.

The book takes the form of a series of conversations between Hockney (the artist) and Martin Gayford (the critic). It is a little hard to tell whether these are transcriptions or a more formal, written exchange, though they do have a slightly literary quality at times. The scope of the book is “from the cave to the computer screen” and the progression is chronological, which makes for readability, although it does sometimes repress the idea of ways of expression echoing across millennia. You might counter that art regards itself as a steady development, perhaps from simple realism to more complex means of interpretation, however.

In a way, it doesn’t matter whether you like either of the protagonists. What is more important is that their views are clear and that there are plenty of illustrations – hardly anything is discussed in its absence – giving you the chance to explore your own thoughts and be informed or disagree as often as you wish.

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