Two rather long quotes I took from the documentary Hockney, BBC Four (first shown March 2015) on i-player. Mainly biographical, with plenty of Hockney’s own footage. We see how from very early on he became interested in how we see and as continued to grapple with this throughout his career.
Hockney talks a great deal about the photograph in his recent book A Bigger Message so it was interesting to see that he was tackling the same subject in this footage way back in the 1970s:
“I’d become very very aware of this frozen moment that was very unreal to me. the photographs didn’t really have life in the way a drawing or painting did. And I realised it couldn’t because of what it is. Compared to Rembrandt looking at himself for hours and hours……a photograph is the other way round – it’s the fraction of a second, frozen. For the moment that you look at it for even four seconds, you’re looking at it for far more than the camera did and it dawned on me that this is visible and the more you become aware of it the more this is a terrible weakness, drawing and painting don’t have this”
I think the following was Philip Steadman:
“We see so many photographic images and film images and they are so mainstream. We’re so used to thinking of those as the way of representing the world but he knows you can do things with painting that one cannot do with photographic technologies, one can express visions of the world, ways of seeing, that invite you to look at things that you would only just glance at if it was a photograph or even if you were seeing it in reality. He’s introducing something much more personal, much more moving and he’s trying many tactics to show that painting can do this”
I want to keep this really front of mind, it’s so crucial. There is no point drawing just to represent or depict something. It should be saying something about the subject, or about us, or if not saying it, asking the questions.