Sunday, November 22, 2009

"If art isn't playful, it's nothing." David Hockney

It seems that I am still struggling to understand the problems of perspective and how they relate to Cubism when David Hockney comes along and explains it so well I can finally get it through my thick, many-sided head. Above is Picasso's Portrait of Emilie-Marguerite Walter, 1939, alongside her photo.

Hockney asserts that the "major problem with traditional perspective, as it was developed in fifteenth-century European painting and persists to this day in the approach of most standard photography, is that it stops time. For perspective to be fixed, time has stopped and hence space has become frozen, petrified. Perspective takes away the body of the viewer. You have a fixed point, you have no movement; in short you are not there, really. That is the problem. Photography hankers after the the condition of the neutral observer. But here can be no such thing as a neutral observer. For something to be seen, it has to be looked at by somebody, and any true and real depiction should be an account of the experience of that looking." (from David Hockney, A Retrospective by Tuchman and Barron.

As he explains in much more detail, there's really no going back once you understand that the viewer is part of the view, or as Juan Gris said that "Cubism wasn't a style, it's a way of life." He also points to the words of Pierre Daix who explained that this revolution in the understanding of pictorial space was "in all probability linked to the simultaneous fact that physics was simultaneously destroying our three-dimensional space time perception." (from Neuchatel: Ides et Calendes, 1979, 184; translation: "Vogue par David Hockney," Vogue, Paris, Dec. 1985-Jan. 1986. 256.

Endless inventive, Hockney has been finding new ways to break up space, eliminate borders and include the viewer for decades now. And in all this, he sees a way to be free and play, without the constrictions of one-point perspective. Not sure if I'm encouraged or discouraged by all this ability and originality. What do you think?

Here's his current website where you can view the photocollage, Prehistoric Museum Near Palm Springs, 1982, as well as one of his more recent works painted in England, Garrowby Hill (1997).

No comments:

Post a Comment