Digital David Hockney – A Bigger Picture

David Hockney declares that ‘the iPad is like an endless piece of paper that perfectly fitted the feeling I had that painting should be big’.

Hockney is a lover of technology who, back in 1989, faxed  his exhibition to the São Paulo Biennial and in a live event witnessed by spectators, he faxed a 144-sheet composite image, Tennis, to the 1853 Gallery at Salts Mill, near Bradford. He describes the fax as ‘a telephone for the deaf’. He wouldn’t have been able to fit a fax machine in his pockets then, but now he has his suits made to accommodate his bespoke wooden-framed iPad.

Hockney’s is a style that contains references to mass culture; packaging, popular music and advertising and lettering.  His in-depth engagement with the works of the Old Masters and the historical use of visual aids was made clear in his book Secret Knowledge (2001). He posits that advances in realism and accuracy in Western art since the Renaissance were primarily the result of optical aids such as the camera obscura, camera lucida and curved mirrors.

Quantel Paintbox

Quantel Paintbox

Way back in 1985 Hockney used  Quantel Paintbox, a computer program for creating graphics  – also used by Dire Straits for their Money For Nothing video. Moving onto an Apple Mac II FX with Oasis software by Timearts to create his first drawing on the computer, which he prints on his laser colour printer in 1990.

David used digital photographs for ‘East Yorkshire Landscape Paintings’ in 2007 and is now using digital videos displayed on multiple screens; filmed simultaneously using eighteen cameras providing a spellbinding visual experience. So enamoured of digital and film making that he refers to his home at Bridlington in Yorkshire as ‘Bridlywood’.

The Bigger Picture at the Royal Academy in London culminates in ‘The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011‘. A dominating piece on 32 canvases surrounded by over fifty large-scale iPad drawings printed five feet high on paper, which chronicle the season in breathtaking detail.

David Hockney; still smoking, still painting and now exploring the brushes app on his iPhone.

David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture 21 January – 9 April 2012 Adults: £14

You can tweet @RoyalAcademy #RAHockney for an update on the queues.

iPad drawings in David Hockney’s Royal Academy exhibition

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