Hockney's claims

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Hockney's claims

From Brian K. Yoder

Published before 2005


Piet Spijkers wrote: Without doubt there is truth in these statements, especially Juan’s where he makes the link with the social role of the artist. Brian’s statements I also agree with although I wondered if they are no that general as to be applicable to other centuries as well, the sixteenth for example, the seventeenth or the nineteenth.

I don't think so except the 19th century. There was steady progress of course over all of that time but there were special conditions in the 15th and 19th centuries that were unlike the general improvement over time during other eras. One was that before the 15th century Europe's cultural, intellectual, and material well being had been essentially stagnant for a thousand years. The overall change in these things in a fairly short span of time in every area of life was not coincidental. Likewise, in the 19th century the Industrial Revolution again made vast changes in every aspect of life in a relatively short period of time.

PS: For me the interesting thing in this context is to understand, while social, religious and economic changes occurred everywhere in (Western Europe) the advances of painting where local, and in different periods, more to be understood I think by local history than by the broad changes Brian speaks about. Examples: the Flemish "primitives" in Gent and Bruges during the first half of the fifteenth century, the Italian masters the second half, the Venetians, the Dutch from 1600 to 1680, the Spanish Baroque, it is all quite local and during relatively short time spans.

No doubt there have been local and temporary explosions of artistic progress in various places at various times, and they can certainly occur outside of any general cultural or economic trends like the Industrial Revolution. I'm just pointing out that when such a dramatic change as occurred in the Renaissance occurs in so many different fields of study at once it makes sense to look at the common origins and mutual supporting trends for the causes rather than doing as Hockney did and inventing some "secret" explanation. Ockham's Razor gets violated if you do.

--Brian