Concerning comments on Hockney

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Concerning comments on Hockney

From William Kelly

Published before 2005


What is truly offensive to the art fraternity and to those who have a respect for truth is this shameless touting of common knowledge as a blinding discovery that, Hockney would have us believe, is owed entirely to his 'superior' insight. The camera obscura was used by various artists during and after the Renaissance but a lot more very talented artists did not require its assistance. What need for any such help if you have the genius of a Tiepolo? It is ironically just those artists Hockney has zoned in on. The logic being that if one has used it, ALL must have used it. This is the thinking of a man who knows a thing or two about bandwagons and how to get on them. He is clearly gripped by the delusion that because he, 'The Great Hockney', cannot paint or draw with the masterful facility of a Leonardo or a Bouguereau it follows logically that NOBODY can or indeed ever did without the aid of cleverly concealed mechanical devices. This is the lunatic hypothesis he sets out to 'prove'.

Hockney is a mediocre artist whose inherent lack of vision no mechanical aid could ever hope to put right. His rise to eminence was greatly facilitated by his tutor friends at the Royal College of Art in London and the Arts Council of Great Britain in particular.

His artistic provenance lies in the American Pop Art movement, a bandwagon that many Brit aspirants including Hockney hopped on at the time in the absurd quest to be "contemporary". That, after all, even today, is where the money lies. It is said that students at the Royal hide their paintings when they hear Hockney's footstep on the stairs. All that photographic stuff he brags about is very typical of student research into photography as an aid to the examination of perspective, tonality, texture and so on. Such other ideas that he has claimed exclusive rights to follow directly from the experiments of Matisse and Picasso. This utter lack of self-propelled originality is likely the motivation for Hockney's endeavour to institutionalize himself as an original 'thinker' since he knows full well that posterity will not take him seriously unless he comes up with at least one idea he can call his own. Picasso may be safe in his heaven, even after the egomania of his mission is fully revealed, but not so Hockney, his disciple, who will undoubtedly fade into obscurity once his true stature is measured.

In actual fact the 'camera obscura' was a project given to us by our art teacher forty years ago. To degrade the masters of the past on the basis that their spiritual command is attributable directly to this invention is about as ignorant as trying to trace the genius of Mozart to the invention of the metronome. If Hockney had any worthwhile craftsmanship at all he would not have had a problem with the undoubted mastery of his predecessors. As I say, you have to look beyond what little talent he has to find the real reason for his fame. It may well be that England in the sixties needed a national champion just as America needed a Jackson Pollock. Pollock had the help of the CIA for just this purpose. Politics my friends. Many of you thought ART, in all its sequestered divinity, was beyond their reach, didn't you? Think again. Find out the faceless ones of power and influence who hoisted Hockney up the fame ladder and you have solved the puzzle. Men with ten times more skill and fifty times more integrity draw on the pavements for a crust. If Hockney had to do that, he would starve to death.

Unfortunately for Hockney, the truth will out eventually because the art world has been policing itself most reliably since the caves. In the Judgement Hall of Art defendant Hockney is going to have to produce better evidence in his defence than either his work or his self-promotional documentaries.