"I am not one who was born in the custody of wisdom. I am one who is fond of olden times and intense in quest of the sacred knowing of the ancients." Gustave Courbet

29 June 2011


David Hockney interviewed by BBC 3 ...

INTERVIEWER: Do you find that paintings come out differently, do they always come out differently from the way you think they would when you start?

HOCKNEY: Yes, they do sometimes, but I mean, I must point out this. Some artists you know might find a certain way of working and work with that way and you develop it, you can be subtle with it, you can do variations on it and so on. Actually I've never done that. I've always been er, actually, how do I look? what do I see? how do I see? how can you represent this? show the excitement, does the world look terrific? yes, I think so, I like looking at it, and so on. That's what I explore.

Hockney, Woldgate Woods, March 30-April 21, 2006

INTERVIEWER: So do you take yourself by surprise? In the course of working?

HOCKNEY: Sometimes. I wouldn't have known I suppose totally when I began the research on secret knowledge where it would take me, I didn't know. But it did always take me into interesting areas and as I say eventually back to the hand, because you understand what the photograph is finally. You don't know that at the beginning remember. And people often would be criticising you, what are you doing wasting your time doing that? But of course I could always ignore that, I was always confident enough to ignore that really.

Hockney, Woldgate Woods, October 24-26, 2006

INTERVIEWER: Say a little bit more about that period of your life, when you thought you'd established, perhaps you had, to your satisfaction that the secret of a certain kind of immediacy and accuracy of line in paintings from the fifteenth century was because they used an optical lens, the camera lucida.

HOCKNEY: I began to see my eye, you see it was actually the Ingres exhibition here. I looked at those drawings, I'd admired those drawings all my life, but I hadn't actually seen many real ones and how small they were. I was struck by how small they were.

Hockney, Woldgate Woods, November 6-9, 2006

INTERVIEWER: And you thought there was something suspicious about them.

HOCKNEY: Well, how does your hand move, work, slightly bigger than that if it moves round, if you think about it, and it isn't suspicious. I mean er, unfortunately people misunderstood what I was saying, meaning, unfortunately "New Yorker" started, 'did the old masters cheat?', which unfortunately is a very childish view of it, meaning as though tracing was simple, er straightforward, any child could do it, which of course they can't, that is not true.

Hockney, Woldgate Woods, November 7-8, 2006

INTERVIEWER: As if an oil painter using a stick to rest his hand on, is somehow cheating.

HOCKNEY: And I had, did know, of course, that Chinese art that was very sophisticated never dealt with shadows, it does not have shadows in it. Why? Because probably they think, everything is a shadow. But, you then realise optics need shadows. Because it needs strong light. And as I began to see it, I realised, my God, they were looking at these, and the moment you make an optical projection yourself, which you've got to do, of course, it's quite simple.

Hockney, Woldgate Woods, November 21-23, 29, 2006

INTERVIEWER: And which you did.

HOCKNEY: And which I did, and the moment I looked at them, you knew they'd looked at them. They do things for instance, they're very beautiful, you are fascinated by them, just as a person is fascinated by the TV image which is an optical projection of nature, isn't it? It's just not very true necessarily of what's in front of it, like they claimed. But, I was thrilled to look at them. I touched them. You wanted to touch them. Where does this colour come from?

Read the rest here.

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