Ex Libris Kirkland

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Subtitle Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters
First Written 2001
Genre Art History
Origin US
Publisher Viking Studio
ISBN-10 0670030260
ISBN-13 978-0670030262
My Copy library hardback
First Read March 13, 2012

Secret Knowledge

David Hockney - himself an accomplished painter and photographer - makes the case that much of the startling realism in that developed in Europe's Renaissance was a product of the introduction of optical drawing devices (camera obscuras, camera lucidas. various lenses) - and that everyone from Van Eyck to Durer to Carvaggio to Ingres to Cranach were using them. t's kind of an astounding claim (they didn't just SEE and PAINT?), but he makes a great case. With his artist's eye, he brings your attention to elements in the paintings that reflect an optics-based way of seeing the world. It's part art history, part detective novel, and part coffee table art book. I

While I find Hockney's claims pretty convincing, my favorite part of the book was the reason it gave to really look closely at so many great works of art, reproduced in such fine detail.

Noted on March 17, 2012

Others, though, were horrified at my suggestions. Their main complaint was that for an artist to use optical aids would be 'cheating'; that somehow I was attacking the idea of innate artistic genius. Let me say here that optics do not make the marks, only the artists hand can do that, and it requires great skill. And optics don't make drawing any easier either, far from it - I know, I've used them. Butt to an artist six hundred years ago optical projections would have demonstrated a new vivid way of looking at and representing the material world. Optics would have given artists a new tool with which to make images that were more immediate, and more powerful. To suggest that artists used optical devices, as I am doing here, is not to diminish their achievements. For me, it makes them all the more astounding.

Quoted on March 17, 2012

Ex Libris Kirkland is a super-self-absorbed reading journal made by Matt Kirkland. Copyright © 2001 - .
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