Hockney's possible motives

Home / Education / ARChives / Foundational Discussions

Hockney's possible motives

From Virgil Elliott

Published before 2005


Virgil Elliott: [...] It is relevant to Hockney's contention that something is impossible. What could be his basis for such a supposition? All he can say without deviating from logic is that it is impossible for him.

Piet Spijkers: No, not necessarily. He observes differences in quality and asks himself, why? (invents then the optic device theory).

Piet, I have the book in my hand right now. I opened it at random to page 235, where, in a letter to MK, Hockney says, "I too have noticed the burst in the 17th century of different expressions - transient in a way Dürer couldn't do. This to me confirms the lens, it's just not possible without it." I have not altered Hockney's words. He repeats this kind of supposition throughout the book. On page 230, speaking about Caravaggio, he says, "To any draughtsman, eyeballing that accurately is virtually impossible." Again, his words. On page 195, speaking of Bouguereau's painting of a bather, he says, "In fact, the wave looks to us today rather like what we would call in film a back projection; this is what it must be." ["must" is in italics in the book]. Hockney ignores the fact that color photography had not yet been invented when the picture in question was painted, and the picture is in color. On page 33, he says, speaking of Ingres, "The fabric draped over Madame Leblanc's chair could not, I believe, have been done without some optical help." Those suppositions of his are what I am addressing.

VE: There is no basis for him to extrapolate from that that since he cannot do it, therefore it is impossible. Yet his premise can only be based on the idea that he cannot do it.

PS: This is not relevant. The range is not between "possible" and "impossible" but between good and better till very good ...

Piet, I have just shown you several places in his book where he says it is impossible. Do not try to change the subject. It won't work.

VE: So I see the possible reasons why Hockney says these things are humanly impossible as being; 1) ignorance of the truth; or, 2) dishonesty, meaning he knows it isn't true, but would like to convince us that it is anyway. Neither of those are respectable, from my perspective. If you have a third possibility, let's have it.

PS: Number three: he is not a dumb (1), nor a liar (2) but (3) he was curious (and a little bit obstinate although that seems to be changing) [...]

You have not shown that he is not ignorant of the truth, nor that he did not misrepresent the truth. Curiosity is beside the point. If he believes what he has said, he is ignorant of the truth; if he does not believe it, he is dishonest. There it is, take your choice. If he is honest, he will renounce whatever he has said that is not true, and admit his error.

Virgil Elliott