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What's the Big Deal? Posted on 12/03/2001.

I find the reaction to David Hockney's hypothesis that many "Great Masters" utilized lenses and tracing to paint their subjects delightfully misguided. It strikes me as bizarre that people would be so invested in the supposed purity of someone else's work (particularly someone long long dead) that they'd find the very idea that Hockney raises to be offensive. It's like their appreciation of these artists is a tenet of faith, not taste, and that someone calling into question the artists' methods is an infidel.

It speaks to these folks (mostly long-winded critics, not that I know anything about being long-winded or critical) know nothing about the creative process. Any creator uses whatever tools he has at his disposal to implement his vision. Would it be sinful to posit that Rembrandt used a straightedge to draw a line? It's as if folks want these artists to be divinely inspired and skilled, to have their talents bestowed upon them as a gift from God.

When I read about this stuff, I simply get excited for Hockney's sleuthing, his uncovering of clues that lead to his theory. How remarkable that he's figured out what he's figured out! And how shameful of those who cast aspersions just because it contradicts a belief that they foolishly held as unassailable.

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Previous entry: "An idle question."
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More significantly: Hockney isn't saying anything new. Anyone who's interested in the period's art and technology will have read della Porta, Kircher and the other writers on the camera obscura, and come to similar conclusions. But because Hockney's an artist, rather than a damnable art historian, he gets the book deal and the publicity for saying it.
Posted by nick @ 12/04/2001 04:35 PM PST [link to this comment]

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