Tag Archives: Hockney

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Did Rembrandt’s use mirrors for his paintings?


It’s debatable for sure, but there are a number of people who think he did. This piece (from a few years ago) titled The Mirrors Behind Rembrandt’s Self-Portraits in The New York Times  looks into one paper that argues so

In a paper published Wednesday in the Journal of Optics, Mr. O’Neill lays out a theory that Rembrandt set up flat and concave mirrors to project his subjects — including himself — onto surfaces before painting or etching them.

By tracing these projections, the 17th-century painter would have been able to achieve a higher degree of precision, Mr. O’Neill said. His research suggests that some of Rembrandt’s most prominent work may not have been done purely freehand, as many art historians believe.

He is not the first to suggest that old master painters used optics for their famous portraits.

In 2001, David Hockney, a renowned British painter, and Charles Falco, an optical sciences professor at the University of Arizona, published a book in which they argued that master painters secretly used mirrors and lenses to create hyperrealistic paintings, starting in the Renaissance.

Their theory, known as the Hockney-Falco thesis, generated controversy among scientists and art historians, some of whom took the findings as an implication that old master painters had “cheated” to produce their works.

I’ve read Hockney on this and he makes a strong case too. Not everyone agrees though. It’s worth reading the article and get a better picture, pardon the pun.

My thought is it’s likely all artists of the time would have used them to some extent. But Rembrandt is such a remarkable painter that it can only account for some of his greatness, if any.

David Hockney: still going, still great

David Hockney

And the NYTimes has an update on where he is in his life and his career, here: David Hockney, Contrarian, Shifts Perspectives – NYTimes.com.

I have always admired Hockney both for the wonderful lushness of his paintings and for  the way he speaks about art. Both of those admirable qualities are on display in the piece in the Times. He’s in his 80s now: I hope he continues to work and speak for some time to come.

(Image linked to in the NYTimes and taken by Nathanael Turner)

Cindy Sherman is on Instagram and is doing something new

And the New York Times has a good analysis of here work so far. I really enjoyed the analysis. As for me, I found it interesting that she has transitioned the account from a basic one that recorded events the way most of us do into something that extends her art in a way few of us can do. I also like that great artists like Sherman can take new media and incorporate it into their work but also extend it. David Hockney did something similar with the Brushes app. Here's hoping more artists do such things.

Two good articles on David Hockney in the Guardian

The first one is a summary of his new show in L.A.: David Hockney unveils new works on perspective created in Los Angeles | Art and design | The Guardian.

The second one is a meaty interview: David Hockney: ‘Just because I’m cheeky, doesn’t mean I’m not serious’ | Art and design | The Guardian.

I enjoyed the interview alot: it is a great review of his career, plus it talks about many other great artists of the second part of the 20th century.

Anyone interested in modern art would enjoy both of these.