Hockney's possible motives

Home / Education / ARChives / Foundational Discussions

Hockney's possible motives

From Virgil Elliott

Published before 2005


Piet Spijkers wrote:
Virgil,

I know you are a true believer in the bad meanings of [Hockney], so it is not easy to get across an opinion which doesn't start with that conviction from scratch. You state that the presumption is born out of jealousy or something like that (< thinking things impossible simply because he, Hockney, is incapable of doing them >). You have nothing to underscore that statement apart from your view that he is a lousy artist.

Piet, I said nothing about jealousy, just presumptuousness that indicates an ego unwilling to acknowledge his own abilities as inferior in any way. What else could he be operating from in that premise, i.e., that whatever he himself cannot do must therefore be humanly impossible? If he were capable of doing it himself, he would not postulate that it is impossible, would he? Propose an alternate hypothesis of your own, if you can come up with one. My view that Hockney is a lousy artist is shared by every artist I know who can draw and paint better than Hockney can, and the view that he is a good artist is only possible for people who are not as good at it as he is. Someone who cannot play a note might be impressed with someone playing "Mary Had a Little Lamb" with one finger on a piano, but a real musician would see it differently.

PS: Apply that to Hockney's buddy the optical professor. That one was as enthusiastic as could be, he even started to study van Eyck's travels and the weather in Belgium in December or so during the fifteenth century.

Charles Falco's field is thin-film physics, not optics, first of all. I have had personal correspondence with Falco, and know that he does not understand art or artists, or what goes into the making of art. It is not his field of expertise, and their are as many fallacies in his judgment as there are in Hockney's. His public profile has benefitted from being associated with the famous artist David Hockney, elevating him from the relative obscurity of an academic thin-film physicist in Arizona to a figure near the center of a pseudoscientific international controversy. I suspect an opportunistic motive for his complicity, a mutually beneficial arrangement that helps Hockney by adding the appearance of scientific respectability and thus the fa├žade of legitimacy by having a scientist involved, and which helps Falco by bringing him into the limelight. Falco finds ways of explaining whatever is in evidence in old paintings in terms that indicate the possibility of its having been done with the aid of some optical device, whether in fact such devices even existed at the times the paintings in question were created, and then proclaims this to constitute proof of Hockney's theory, while ignoring other, more plausible explanations, such as that the artist simply drew it that way. From a logical standpoint it does not hold water. I have also been discussing this with Dr. David Stork, who has effectively refuted Falco and Hockney on enough key points to settle the matter except in the minds of those whose understanding of science and/or what goes into the making of realistic art is fuzzy, which unfortunately includes most people alive today, a lamentable fact of life in the modern world. Falco comes very late into the study of anything to do with art, from my perspective, and for anyone to regard him as an expert whose ideas on it are worth anything indicates nothing but a vast void of ignorance on the subject on their part. Anyone who is himself capable of drawing realistically freehand KNOWS this theory is false, and no scientist with any sort of pedigree is going to be able to convince him otherwise. There is no logic behind it. I suggest you read what David Stork has to say about it.

PS: Good and innovative research is most of the time driven by curiosity in the first place, not by self-aggrandizement (although a compliment by a good peer helps). I see it that H. was driven by curiosity and there is not much you can bring up against that.

Anyhow, I don't believe either in the lens theory but I don't ascribe bad will to H. I thought it was a funny idea, and I still cannot follow the nearly religious agitation it produces here in the GoodArt list.

Piet, I did leave the possibility open that extreme ignorance and naivete could be behind it if indeed Hockney is not being dishonest, but the plausibility of that is itself questionable unless some serious self-deception were also involved on his part. If all it is is "funny" to you, I can't help but question how much you really care about art.

Virgil Elliott