February 29, 2012

I think David Hockney is wrong about this...

“Look at that basket of fruit by Chardin over there on the left [top], and now at the same subject by Cezanne… Chardin’s version, for all its indisputable mastery and beauty, feels far away; it’s a picture of fruit at the far end of an optical remove, receding into the picture, whereas Cezanne’s… feels right up close; those apples feel close at hand, they feel present to hand, they come out to us. That’s what you can achieve when you break from the tyranny of the optical.” [David Hockney, quoted in Weschler, p.184]

I like Hockney a lot. And I certainly don't know what paintings he was referring to when he made the above comment. But given his argument [that Chardin is subject to the "tyranny of the optical"] it shouldn't matter which painting it was. Hockney's saying that Chardin's paintings all work in a way that removes us from the subject, whereas Cezanne sees and therefore paints in away that brings the subject close---makes it present.

I like Hockney's argument, but I can't see it and so I have to say, I think he's wrong. What do you think?

February 22, 2012

how we actually see

Mark Horst "What have I become? no. 1" oil on canvas.

Hockney, speaking about his photo collages: 

“I realized that this sort of picture came closer to how we actually see, which is to say, not all at once but rather in discrete, separate glimpses, which we then build up into our continuous experience of the world. Looking at you now, my eye doesn’t capture you in your entirety, but instead quickly, in nervous little glances… There are a hundred separate looks across time from which I synthesize my living impression of you. And that is wonderful. If, instead, I caught all of you in one frozen look, the experience would be dead—it would be like… it would be like looking at an ordinary photograph.”

from Lawrence Weschler, “True to Life: Twenty-five Years of Conversations with David Hockney,” p.10

February 3, 2012

memory and seeing

David Hockney, "Arnold, David, Peter, Elsa, and Little Diana, 20 March 1982

“Working on these collages… I realized how much thinking goes into seeing—into ordering and reordering the endless sequence of details which our eyes deliver to our mind… Which is to say, memory plays a crucial role in perception. At any given moment, my eyes catch his or that detail—they really can’t keep any wide field in focus all at once—and it’s only my memory of the immediately previous details which allows me to form a continuous image of the world.”

[from Lawrence Weschler, “True to Life: Twenty-five Years of Conversations with David Hockney”