Tuesday, May 25, 2021

David Hockney: Drawing from Life


Hockney iPad selfie

“A photograph cannot really have layers of time in it, the way a painting can which is why drawn and painted portraits are much more interesting,” David Hockney is quoted as saying at the start of the current "David Hockney: Drawing from Life" show at the Morgan. The question of what constitutes a portrait and especially a self-portrait is one of the many things that's up for discussion in the current exhibit. It can be a lover like Gregory Evans, a muse like the textile designer Celia Birtwell, his mother--as well as a pair of shoes or an ashtray with cigarette butts--both of which images exude the intimate quality of selfies. Hockney was influenced by the eclecticism of Picasso and Rembrandt. And he demonstrates both in the broad approach to drawing which includes watercolor, pencil, Rapidograph (which conforms the width of the line) and even iPad. In terms of content the exhibit  also illustrates the Catholic nature of the artist's interests which run from Hogarth’s "A Rake's Progress” (1735) as the model for his coming to New York in the summer of l961, the homoeroticism of Whitman, the vegetarianism of Gandhi and the poetry Cavafy which is the basis for his “IIlustrations for Fourteen Poems from C.P. Cavafy” done with the printmaker Maurice Payne. Says Hockney: "Drawing makes you see things clear and clearer and clearer still, until your eyes ache."

Read "Inventing Abstraction" by Francis Levy, The Screaming Pope

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