Painting of the Day

7 Mar

Large Interior, Los Angeles. by David Hockney (born 1937). Oil, ink on cut-pasted paper, on canvas, 1988. Currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Notes from

Great Britain and Ireland in the twentieth century are marked by several wars: the Anglo-Boer War that opens the century, and the two world wars that follow. The first of these conflicts is part of the process of decolonization that other European nations also undergo early in the century. Later, World Wars I and II are separated by two decades that witness the rise of fascism and a worldwide economic depression. In the postwar period, as elsewhere in Western Europe and North America, demand for consumer goods that has gone unsatisfied during years of wartime deprivation fuels the production of commodities. A period of relative optimism crescendos when London becomes an icon of the “Swinging Sixties.” It is during that decade that British design, fashion, and music take on international preeminence. The late 1960s and ’70s are a time of economic and political instability that result in a return to conservative policies during the “Thatcher Years” of the 1980s.

From the vantage points of art, design, and architecture, the early decades of the century are characterized by projects that pursue the design reform begun in the nineteenth century by William Morris, a leader of the Arts and Crafts movement, and others. Somewhat isolated from mainstream modernist tendencies of the early twentieth century, Britain is nonetheless touched by such predominantly Continental movements as Cubism and Surrealism. Moreover, British artists play an important role in the development of Pop Art at mid-century. During the 1980s, Britain reemerges as an important center for the production of avant-garde art and architecture.

My comments:

This is one of the paintings I saw on my trip to Manhattan last Saturday, and it immediately stood out to me because the only other paintings I had seen by David Hockney were very smooth, simple and geometric compositions with cool, neutral colors. This is a fantastic painting for the great mix of differing patterns as defined by the textural changes that Hockney communicates with each differing surface in this landscape/still life of sorts. With the bright colors and differing textures, Hockney provides so much for the eye to peruse. Hockney’s way of drawing and his use of color and patterns remind me very much of Matisse, especially Matisse’s painting The Red Studio.

We have just transitioned into painting in my Foundation Drawing class, and I have discovered how truly difficult painting is. It is so difficult to communicate differing textures and shading in painting, even on a more abstract level. I have an even deeper appreciation for all painters now than I ever had before. Even though Hockney’s painting has different goals and expresses different things about the world he saw than a portrait by Ingres, for example, both types of painting are exceedingly difficult to actually execute, I have learned. Many would probably look at this painting by Ingres, and think that it shows better technical skill than Hockney’s work above:

Joséphine-Éléonore-Marie-Pauline de Galard de Brassac de Béarn (1825–1860), Princesse de Broglie

But while Ingres’ painting seems almost photorealistc compared to Hockney’s, it does not make Ingres the better painter or better artist. Contrary to conventional belief, not all painters who paint at least somewhat representationally have the same goals in mind. I don’t think that we should compare these two artists by trying to argue what Hockney does better than Ingres or vice versa because that would only imply that we need to justify the talent of one artist or the other. Comparing these two artists, although both painters, would be almost as fruitless as comparing apples and oranges (pun intended).

One Response to “Painting of the Day”

  1. tara March 8, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    Love both pictures! Would put the Ingres in our dining room and the Hockney in the living room. I am amazed at the texture of the fabric in Ingres.

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