Hockney Ramble (or Artists + Books, part 1)

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I was in Los Angeles this past weekend, and I went with photographer and Blurbarian Amanda Marsalis to see the David Hockney Portraits show at LACMA. I did a design project on Hockney my freshman year in college and have always had a soft spot for his work, but even without my admitted bias, the show was really inspiring.

I really enjoyed seeing how Hockney used portraiture as a subject that he has explored throughout his career. Several of his regular subjects appear in multiple portraits executed in disparate media including drawings, paintings, photo collage, etc.). And by viewing these pieces and seeing the effects of time on both artist and model, I felt like I had a deeper understanding of the subject, the artist, and the complex interpersonal relationship between them.

The other wonderful surprise at the show was the collection of Hockney’s sketchbooks. The books begin when he started college in London (1959) and continue through to the present. They say that Hockney is never without a sketchbook, and that for him the act of seeing and sketching are inextricably linked. When viewing these books, I was struck by how, for many of us, the form of the book is integral to creativity and self-expression—from a teenager with her diary to a famous artist in his late sixties. Whether thinking on paper or seeing on paper as Hockney does, it seems that books are the form that we turn to when we have something to say, something to save.

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