2020-06-16 book

True to Life: Twenty-Five Years of Conversations with David Hockney

Weschler and Hockney (2008)

Photographing time

David Hockney - My House (1982) My House 1982

the reason you can’t look at a photograph for a long time is because there’s virtually no time in it p.7

Hockney was drawn to photo collage because he could portray time as a collection of moments. In his drawings and paintings, time is layered onto the image as a series of edits and refinements.

Painting space

David Hockney - A Visit with Chrisopher and Don, Santa Monica (1984) A Visit with Christopher and Don 1984

The camera, although people think it sees everything in front of it, cannot see the main thing we get excited about in front of us, which is space. The camera cannot see it. Only human beings maybe, or anyway only living beings, can see space.” p.53

I am painting with my whole body. And the painting itself is addressing you in your entire body: it is big enough to be doing so. You can feel it. And that’s the point: out there in the world but here as well, space is a feeling.” p.212

There is a reciprocal relationship between the artist and viewer’s act of observation with the artwork. Hockney’s work examines this relationship against the backdrop of space and time.

Drawing with the wrong tool

David Hockney - Sitting in the Zen Garden at the Ryōanji Temple, Kyoto (1983) Sitting in the Zen Garden at the Ryōanji Temple 1983

[The camera] is an extraordinary drawing tool. It’s as if I, like most ordinary photographers, had previously been taking part in some long-established culture in which pencils were used only for making dots—there’s an obvious sense of liberation that comes when you realize you can make lines! p.14

A shift in his perception about the tool he was using unlocked a new sense of imagination about what he could capture and portray with it. Augmenting his tools with the power of time.

Art as research

All of this work is undertaken in a spirit of research. I’m not so much interested in the mere objects I’m creating as in where they’re taking me, and all the work in all the different media is part of that inquiry and part of that search. p.61

Good art is a personal logging of time, experience, memory, vision. These accumulate into the artwork, which almost becomes an artifact of that process rather than the thing itself.

Weschler, Lawrence, and David Hockney. 2008. True to Life: Twenty-Five Years of Conversations with David Hockney. Berkeley: University of California Press.
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2020-06-16