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From Sean Flaherty

Published before 2005


I bought this book [Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters] sealed with plastic at Barnes and Noble about 6 months ago. When I got to my car, I was excited about learning something of the secrets of the masters, and when I read it I felt ripped off.

You're right, the art from the Renaissance inspires us. We need more of it. We need artists who go deep into life and go deep into their abilities to bring us art that is soul nourishing, art that lifts us higher than the everyday prosaic world.

This book is just like the spirit of our times. We've exhausted every sphere of existence with our cold, calculating scientific eye. We have deconstructed literature, we have fragmented and destroyed the religious traditions, we have wreaked havoc on nature and on ourselves to live a mediocre existence in a fragmented society that is spinning so far from its former center, that we might not make it back.

So, what does Hockney have to offer us? Maybe he can deconstruct a beautiful and poetic way of painting which effectively reflected a deep and abiding love and respect for the human experience, and God, and society, and cradled it all together, its authority providing warmth, inspiration, validity and stability to civilization for centuries.

Or, maybe he can't.

Maybe he can just rattle on about the lens someone may have used, or not.

But, the focus should be on what makes those paintings powerful. And it's not whether or not they had a lens.