DAVID HOCKNEY’S CUBIST PHOTOGRAPHY

Source: Dangerous Minds

It was during a discussion for a planned exhibition of his personal photographs that artist David Hockney hit upon a new way of making pictures. Alain Sayag, of the Pompidou Center in Paris, had visited Hockney at his LA home, and was looking through the 100-odd photo albums, when Hockney realized the photographs had “cheated,” as they had not captured a true sense of the events they depicted.

“I had become very, very aware of this frozen moment that was very unreal to me. The photographs didn’t really have life in the way a drawing or painting did, and I realized it couldn’t because of what it is.

“Compared to a Rembrandt looking at himself for hours and hours of scrutinizing his face, and putting all these hours into the picture you’re going to look at, naturally there’s many more hours there than you can give it.

“A photograph is the other way round, it’s a fraction of a second, frozen. So, the moment you’ve looked at it for even four seconds, you’re looking at it far more than the camera did.

“It dawned on me this was visible, actually, it is visible, and the more you become aware of it, the more this is a terrible weakness; drawings and paintings do not have this.”

That night, after Sayag had left, Hockney started taking Polaroids of his home and studio. He took multiple pictures, concentrating on some areas, and ignoring others. Hockney then selected the photos he wanted to use, placed these onto a board, arranging them by the same decisions of “line and form” that he used when drawing a picture. The end result Hockney called a “Joiner,” a multiple photographic portrait of a place or individual, which gives the viewer a better sense of space and time than any ordinary snapshot.

“Joiners” owed much to Cubism—an association Hockney found to be a “turn-on.” It was the beginning of a new phase in his career, one which helped develop Hockney’s artistic vision.

In 1983, Melvyn Bragg’s art series The South Bank Show visited Hockney at his LA home, where the artist was filmed as he created a “Joiner” portrait especially for the documentary. Hockney used this “Joiner” to show the difference between a single snap or a filmed sequence.


Don Bachardy and Christopher Isherwood

Celia Birtwell

Kasmin

Gregory and David


Author: Shahidul Alam

Time Magazine Person of the Year 2018. A photographer, writer, curator and activist, Shahidul Alam obtained a PhD in chemistry before switching to photography. His seminal work “The Struggle for Democracy” contributed to the removal of General Ershad. Former president of the Bangladesh Photographic Society, Alam set up the Drik agency, Chobi Mela festival and Pathshala, South Asian Media Institute, considered one of the finest schools of photography in the world. Shown in MOMA New York, Centre Georges Pompidou, Royal Albert Hall and Tate Modern, Alam has been guest curator of Whitechapel Gallery, Winterthur Gallery and Musee de Quai Branly. His awards include Mother Jones, Shilpakala Award and Lifetime Achievement Award at the Dali International Festival of Photography. Speaker at Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Oxford and Cambridge universities, TEDx, POPTech and National Geographic, Alam chaired the international jury of the prestigious World Press Photo contest. Honorary Fellow of Royal Photographic Society, Alam is visiting professor of Sunderland University in UK and advisory board member of National Geographic Society. John Morris, the former picture editor of Life Magazine describes his book “My journey as a witness”, (listed in “Best Photo Books of 2011” by American Photo), as “The most important book ever written by a photographer.” His recent book “The Tide Will Turn” published by Steidl in 2020, is listed in New York Time’s ‘Best Art Books of 2020’. Alam received the “International Press Freedom Award” for 2020 from ‘The Committee to Protect Journalists’.

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