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Monthly Design Review - February-March 2018

This month's review concentrates on just one artist - David Hockney! Following an inspiring retrospective exhibition in NYC, I delve into the rich and all-encompassing Hockney world, which involves drawing, painting, photography and set design.



(Tate Britain Centre 9 February – 29 May 2017, Pompidou Paris from 21 June to 23 October 2017,

New York Metropolitan Museum from 21 November 2017 to 25 February 2018.)

This is the last weekend to see this major David Hockney retrospective! The show honors the artist in his 80th year by presenting his most iconic works and key moments of his career from 1960 to the present.

Working in a wide range of media with equal measures of wit and intelligence, Hockney has examined, probed, and questioned how to capture the perceived world of movement, space, and time in two dimensions. The exhibition offers a grand overview of the artist's achievements across all media, including painting, drawing, photography, and video. From his early experiments with modernist abstraction and mid-career experiments with illusion and realism, to his most recent, jewel-toned landscapes, Hockney has consistently explored the nature of perception and representation with both intellectual rigor and sheer delight in the act of looking.

To see and read more go to


A HISTORY OF PICTURES: From the Cave to the Computer Screen (David Hockney with Martin Gayford, 2016)

David Hockney and art critic Martin Gaylord hold a sophisticated chat about the history of images, which moves between Hockeny's innovative suggestions and Gayford's theoretical observations. As the Washington Times wrote in its review, "Reading A History of Pictures is like touring a great museum with an artist and critic chatting over your shoulder".

In keeping with the idea of an open conversation blending the boundaries between high culture and popular entertainment, the two compare images from Giotto with Disney cartoons, Caravaggio to “Hollywood lighting”, and Plato’s cave to television.

Their discussion helps to make unexpected connections across time and media, arguing that film, photography, painting and drawing are deeply interconnected.

To buy the book go to Amazon.

To read an inspired and very funny review of the book by Clive James in the Guardian.


HOCKNEY PAINTS THE STAGE (Walker Art Center, 1983)

This book explores David Hockney's work as a set and costume designer for opera productions around the world in the 1970s and 1980s. The text combines interviews with Hockney and opera directors, going over each production's design process in detail. Displayed are Hockney's sketches, paintings, backdrops and models, and many photographs from the various productions.

To purchase the book visit Amazon.



Filmed over three years, this documentary is an unprecedented record of a major artist at work. It captures David Hockney’s return from California to paint his native Yorkshire, outside, through the seasons and in all weathers. It tells the story of a homecoming and depicts the artist's constant exploration of nature and the art of painting, culminating in a show at the Royal Academy in London.

Watch the documentary on Kanopy, vimeo or itunes.


CAMERAWORKS (David Hockney, 1984)

In the early 1980’s, David Hockney began creating intricate photo collages that he called “joiners”. His earlier collages consisted of grid-like compositions made up of polaroid photographs. He then switched to photo lab processed 35mm photographs and created collages that took on a shape of their own, creating abstract representations of the scenes he had photographed. Because the photographs are taken from different perspectives and at slightly different times, the result is work that has an affinity with Cubism, as well as a dialogue with motion films.

To purchase the book visit Amazon or rare booksellers.


SECRET KNOWLEDGE: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters

(David Hockney, 2001. Second expanded edition 2006)

David Hockney presents in his book (and accompanying BBC series) his view, supported by the scientific research of Charles M. Falco, that advances in realism and accuracy in the history of Western art since the Renaissance were primarily the result of optical instruments such as the camera obscura, camera lucida, and curved mirrors, rather than solely due to the development of artistic technique and skill.

Hockney’s extensive research led him to conclude that artists such as Caravaggio, Velázquez, da Vinci, and other hyperrealists actually used optics and lenses to create their masterpieces. Hockney concludes that this does not "diminish their achievements. For me, it makes them all the more astounding".

Hockney's thesis prompted intense and sustained debate among artists, art historians, and a wide variety of other scholars. To those who charge he’s devaluing the Old Masters through his theories, Hockney insists he’s doing quite the contrary: He’s showing how clever they were to use technology.

To purchase the book go to Amazon.

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