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Pixels Over Paint: Hockney's iPad Art

By Arfully Yours
Pixels over Paint: Hockney's iPad ArtWhen in July I came across Karen Wright's article for More Intelligent Life, in which she wrote of the old Pop master's new habit of e-mailing friends iphone drawings that he would create while laying in bed at night I was completely charmed. Nothing better than seeing a master being humbled and entertained by new technologies. Back then I wasn't really aware that the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurant in Paris was to host their own exhibition of David Hockney IPad art. 
The ending of Wright's article should have tipped me off that the artist's embrace of the Brushes App was more than just a hobby:
He picks up his iPad and slips it into his jacket pocket. All his suits have been made with a deep inside pocket so that he can put a sketchbook in it: now the iPad fits there just as snugly. Even his tux has the pocket, he tells me.
I ask him if he still draws on his iPhone and he snorts. “No! That’s just a phone now.”  
At the time I took it as an eccentricity, which an artist of the caliber of Hockney was certainly allowed to indulge in. But now I see, it was a major artistic choice.
Pixels over Paint: Hockney's iPad ArtApparently Hockney has already created over 1,000 drawings since 2008 when he discovered the drawing application. From his home in Yorkshire he captures the flower arrangements in his nightstand, the sunsets, sundowns and country landscapes to then e-mail them to his family and friends.
I draw flowers every day on my iPhone, and send them to my friends, so they get fresh flowers every morning. And my flowers last. Not only can I draw them as if in a little sketchbook, I can also then send them to 15 or 20 people who then get them that morning when they wake up.
Pixels over Paint: Hockney's iPad ArtOf course the question is whether these drawings are truly art or not? At least that's the question that is being asked over and over by art skeptics who have yet to grasp the concept of the artist's touch. They are art because they were made by David Hockney, an artist.
Are they any good?  
Well, they aren't special by any means, and if the name Hockney wasn't attached to them I probably wouldn't be writing about them. Which is why, maybe against my will, I would like to see these as what they are without trying to over-analyze the the implication the iPad as an artistic tool, or issues of authorship and quality. They are whimsy and bright, and quite frankly very charming.  Plus the concept for the exhibit—a room full of iPads and iPhones projecting Hockney's drawings—seems like a true reflection of the times. Plus the possibility of being able to visit the exhibit on repeated occasions to find new works on display as Hockney e-mails them to the devices on display is exceptional.Pixels over Paint: Hockney's iPad ArtBut Maybe its the image of the 73 year old creating his daily masterpiece while laying in bad that makes it easy for me not to take this too seriously. Or maybe It's that I can now find comfort in the fact that all those hours wasted doodling on the iPhone are now, in some way or another, validated.
Picasso would have gone mad with this. So would Van Gogh. I don’t know an artist who wouldn’t, actually.
Pixels over Paint: Hockney's iPad ArtDavid Hockney: Fleur Fraîches opens through the 30th of January, 2011.
David Hockney's iPad Art [The Telegraph]
David Hockney, iPriest of Art [London Evening Standard]
 Images via The Atlantic and the London Evening Standard

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