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Sunday, December 19, 2010

David Hockney

One of the most revolutionary developments in photography this century had been the work of businessman/inventor, David Land.  Perhaps you've heard of his camera, the Land Camera?  The Polaroid Land Camera?  There, I knew you'd heard of him. As photographers go, they either love it or hate it, and that's pretty much the case with artists as well. A few of us have used it from time to time for quick color images, or two create compositions when time was of the essence. On certain occasions, it can be a helpful tool. A few artists, one in particular, have embraced it as an art/photography medium and has demonstrated again and again it's enormous potential.   

Pearlblossom Highway, David Hockney
That artist is David Hockney. Born in England in 1937, Hockney originally came to notice for his use of hundreds of Polaroid shots of a single scene, collaged together like little snippets of memory to create an overall mural of sizable proportions. His photomontage entitled Pearblossom Highway 11-18th April 1986 is some 78" wide and 111" long. The effect is that of a glimmering mosaic featuring a desolate desert highway where cactus compete with road signs in decorating the landscape. More recently, he has dabbled in everything from acrylic painting to set designs for such productions as Die Frau Ohne Schatten for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 1992.  Still more recently, he created a nine-minute stage set performance piece in which colored lights were the actors.   
His most recent endeavor arrived from England for an exhibit at the National Museum of American Art in Washington with the paint still wet.  Some twenty-four-foot-long in what is termed an "almost realistic" style, it is entitled A Bigger Grand Canyon.  The work is a sequel to the twenty-two-foot-long, computer-driven abstract work he presented last year.  Somewhat like his Polaroid montages, this work is comprised of sixty separate canvases, mounted into a single grid 24 feet long and 7 feet tall.  The painting had it's genesis back in 1982 when Hockney photographed the Grand Canyon using his off-the-shelf Polaroid camera to create a preliminary work from which he has painted.  The work took three months to complete with Hockney working at times on individual canvases and at other times on the work as a whole. I could end this with something about Hockney's work being "grand," or his working on a "grand" scale, but both would be superfluous for anyone seeing this work first hand.

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