25 February 2021
Journal

STUDIO: HOCKNEY - A BOLD PERSPECTIVE

The inquisitive, sharp witted Yorkshire-man is considered Britain's greatest living artist. We get acquainted with some of Hockney's subjects through pastel-hued portraits, sublime interiors and of course, some iconic furniture.

Hockney’s pursuit to explore space is clearly represented through his approach to perspective. Some of his most celebrated works are full of interiors and architecture - and so, furniture too.

Left: Hockney in his studio, The Guardian, 2016. Right: Mo with Five Leaves, 1971

Take for example, the double portrait of Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott [2] - the Art Deco pink sofa, which Henry originally bought for The Met Museum, chosen to represent his flamboyant, larger than life character. The scene from the window behind Henry is from a Polaroid of the New York skyline that Hockney shot from the apartment window.

This painting shows a more traditional approach to perspective, based on Renaissance principles developed by Piero della Francesca. Hockney goes on to challenge these conventions, prolifically.

Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott, 1969

From the everyday simplicity of Aldo Jacober’s folding wooden chair [1: Left], to Marcel Breuer’s ultra modern tubular chair, they (chairs) appear in Hockney’s work as often as his close friends and family; depicted in much the same way, with fondness and familiarity. Hockney’s chairs are the subject of sketches, photographic collages, and more recently in his collection, ‘82 Portraits and 1 Still-life.'

“I’ve always loved chairs, they have arms and legs, like people.” Hockney

Van Gogh’s Chair is a vibrant homage to the original, as is Gauguin's Chair, both of which feature Hockney's trademark reverse perspective.

‘I painted my version with a reverse perspective. You see this side and then that side, so you are moving.’

With a psychedelic pallet, the warped perspective is a playful expression of how the human eye has an ever shifting vantage point. Hockney’s journey through reverse perspective is symbiotic of the Cubist movement. In particular, the work of Picasso, which speaks to his obsession with the mechanics of vision and multi perspective painting.

Left: 'A Chair' Photo Collage, 1985. Right: 'Panama Hat with Bow Tie on a Chair', 1998

His fascination with this subject was fuelled by the discovery of Pavel Florensky, a Russian mathematician and art historian. His 1920 essay, ‘Reverse Perspective’, was a revisionist criticism in defense of 15th-century Russian icons. He argues that ‘correct perspective’ is overrated. The lack of perspective throughout Russian, Egyptian, and Chinese art of this era was not an oversight, but an inspired choice. Hockney deliberately, and joyfully betrays these ‘laws’ of perspective in much the same way. [3: Right]

If you take the time to study Hockney’s work in detail, you’ll notice the wonderful complexities within each piece, always playing with the illusion of light, space and perspective.

We’re so used to seeing images or photographs where the viewpoint is fixed, Hockney challenges our perceptions of reality, using his colourful powers of abstraction.

 

[>] Take a look at the newest additions to our Stools & Seating Collection

Images Via David HockneyTate, NY Times, & The Guardian.

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