David Hockney painting with technology

Interesting article from VAnity Fair about David Hockney


Ithough David

Hockney practices what probably truly is the world 's oldest profession-the

art of painting-he has always zealously embraced new technology. In the

80s he produced original prints using home copiers and telefax machineshe

even fed one enormous, 144-page composite drawing, Tennis, via fax to

a British gallery in 1989.

In 2008, when the artist discovered his iPhone's Brushes application, he

found his ideal idiom for the Digital Age. Wielding only his right thumb-which

he sometimes reflexively "wiped off" on his clothing, so keen was his illusion of

handling actual pigments-Hockney would lie in his Yorkshire bed, capturing

the dawn as it unfolded outside his window. Or he'd create intimate, vibrant

backlit stililifes of flowers, some blossoms imaginary, most of them real. "Beam·

ing light is an interesting subject because you're already working in a luminous

medium," Hockney explains. " It's amazing-with an iPhone there's nothing to

clean up! No pencils, no water-it is completely self-contained ."

Hockney would e-mail 10 or 20 of these exuberant, freehand compositions

a week to 30 or 40 friends and relatives. " Everyone opened my e-mails first,"

he says, " because they didn't contain any demands or requests-only pure

pleasure. My flowers don't need water, but they do need batteries! "

In 2010, Hockney advanced to the iPad, slightly more challenging, he says, be·

cause on its larger surface (upon which he draws with his index finger) "you can't

fudge it." About the same size as the sketchbooks he carries, the apparatus fits

neatly into the "poacher's pockets" his tailor sews inside the jackets of his custom

suits. " I realize now I've made quite a body of work," Hockney acknowledgesmore

than 1,000 images to date. He is thrilled that the art establishment-a con·

federation he sometimes calls the I.C.S. (I nternational Crooks and Swindlers)-will

have a hard time figuring out how to convert this oeuvre into cash. He's likewise

amused that "you can only view these high-tech drawings one at a time. To see

a group of them together you have to go back to an old-fashioned exhibition."

Starting on October 20, Hockney's unassuming little pixel masterpieces will in

fact be shown, on iPhone and iPad screens, at the Pierre Berge-Yves Saint lou·

rent Foundation, in Paris. "This is the most important work being done right now

by a painter," notes Berge, who sees parallels between Hockney's and Saint lau·

rent's prismatic palettes. New images will be poured by the artist into the installa·

tion's devices on a regular basis, which is why the retrospective is titled "Fleurs

Frakhes" (Fresh Flowers). The pictures could also conceivably be streamed simul·

taneously into various museums around the world or collected into an app avail·

able to millions. "The art is subversive," says Berge, but "creation is subversivealwavs!"

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