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Old 05-04-2003, 10:10 AM   #1
Margaret Port Margaret Port is offline
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David Hockney's Secret Knowledge




I just watched a documentary about David Hockney's explorations of artists' use of lenses and mirrors through the past 600 ears. It was called "Secret Knowledge" made in 2001 by the BBC.

He pinned hundreds of colour copies of paintings onto boards in his studio starting with ones done in the 1300s through to C20th works and there was a very distinct jump at 1420AD. This was about when oil paints were invented but I think it also coincided with the invention of lenses (telescopes etc)There was another distinct change when cameras were invented but that is another story.

He finished his programme by recreating one of Carravaggio's painting (three men playing cards)using a lens, by putting his model in costume in strong light and then positioning his canvas so a clear image projected onto it (upside down)which he traced with charcoal. He then had the model change pose and moved the canvas to the appropriate position and repeated the process of charcoal, as he did the third man. His image was very close to the original.

He likened the whole process to what modern artists do with computers. That is take one bit of one image and add another bit from somewhere else and the background from anywhere.

I'm off to buy a copy of his book called "Secret Knowledge from a Forgotten Age" and I'm planning to invest in an overhead projector. Who said painting was hard??
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Old 05-04-2003, 12:03 PM   #2
Timothy C. Tyler Timothy C. Tyler is offline
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With all his new

"found" information...Dave Barry, I think it was, said he refuses to say he "found" any restaurants that are listed in the yellow pages. It's like a sports fan discovering the forward pass.

But beyond these "NEW DISCOVERIES", I wonder if any of these millions of artists that have discovered this will see any improvement in their own crude paintings - especially the author.
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Old 05-04-2003, 07:46 PM   #3
Cynthia Daniel Cynthia Daniel is offline
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You can see an earlier discussion of this at: http://forum.portraitartist.com/show...=&threadid=259
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Old 05-06-2003, 08:44 AM   #4
Margaret Port Margaret Port is offline
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Hi Tim,

I'm curious. Have you seen the documentary?

Hockney said nothing about photography except that the invention of same freed the artist from having to paint realistically and I didn't get the impression that he thought the Old Masters "cheated"
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Old 05-06-2003, 10:28 AM   #5
Michael Georges Michael Georges is offline
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I think that if any painters of the past did use optics, they did so in a concession to speed, not because of a lack of skill.

There are plenty of evidence from painters today that artists can draw and paint from a live model very accurately without the aid of any optics. It is my opinion that most if not all the master painters of old could draw and paint from life and could do so quite skillfully. If they chose to use such devices, it would have been because they were a novelty and possibly because they saved them some time.

The mistake many painters have made since the second generation of impressionists is that they don't ever learn the skill and go right to saving time and it shows in the work - I did this too and am now having to make up for it.
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Old 05-06-2003, 10:54 AM   #6
Timothy C. Tyler Timothy C. Tyler is offline
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Cheating?

Did I say cheating?
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Old 05-06-2003, 10:59 AM   #7
Timothy C. Tyler Timothy C. Tyler is offline
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Lenses

The lenses you mentioned suggest cameras which are a big part of the whole concept of the book. Much of this is and has never been much of a secret to artists. I disagree with many of his conclusions and arguments. My point is, so what? Hockney uses a camera in every one of his paintings and I can't help but think; so? The best cameras made wouldn't help an artist who can't paint.
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Old 05-06-2003, 04:37 PM   #8
Marvin Mattelson Marvin Mattelson is offline
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Bottom line

In his book, Hockney illustrates the use of the same device he claims that Ingres used to do his drawings. In comparing Ingres' drawings to Hockneys' it is quite obvious that it takes far more than a mere optical device to create masterful drawings. Hockney manages to be inaccurate, cartoonlike and generally heavy-handed compared to the genius that personifies all that Ingres touched. It's actually quite sad.
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Old 05-06-2003, 10:53 PM   #9
Valerie Gudorf Valerie Gudorf is offline
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Hear, Hear, Marvin! Well said!

(or is it, Here, Here!) ?
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Old 05-11-2003, 05:28 AM   #10
Khaimraj Seepersad Khaimraj Seepersad is offline
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If you understand the use of the cartoon, layers and assistants in the studio, Hockney falls flat on his face. It's that simple.

For speed, use much darkness, as well as a coloured oil study. See Rubens or Van Dyck. It is sad to see people still falling for the Hockney theories.
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