Monday, October 12, 2015

David Hockney at the Fondation Vincent Van Gogh Arles



Happiness is blinding.

And so I am afraid that I can't begin to give you anything resembling an unbiased review of David Hockney's newly opened exhibition "The Arrival of Spring" at the Fondation Vincent Van Gogh Arles as I was too busy smiling instead of analyzing. And I wasn't the only one.

Mr. Hockney is widely acknowledged as one of our most important and influential contemporary artists. While known primarily for his giving high brow credit to the burgeoning world of Pop Art in the 1960's, he has continuously pushed his visual boundaries and ours in the process, not unlike Vincent Van Gogh some seventy years before him. Both sensorially and semantically, the mesh of these two brilliant artists aesthetics is a perfect fit for the Fondation. Through the presentation of twelve inkjet reproductions of works created on his ipad, along with twenty-five more traditional charcoal drawings, we are drawn into Hockney's world (in this case the woodlands surrounding his native Yorkshire, a rich opposite to the white lights of his current home of Los Angeles) all while realizing that we have trodden these same paths before - in line and in bold non-imitative palette - under Vincent's tutelage.

But again, don't listen to me, I have already let you know that I loved what I saw, instead take a look at this description from the exhibition's introduction:

"Both the iPad and the charcoal series of drawings were produced outdoors in the East Yorkshire countryside, which the artist observed attentively as winter gave way to spring. Working with the touch-screen tablet, which Hockney uses as a digital sketchpad, allows the artist to explore a new visual language while at the same time affirming his love for colours, here taken to their most luminous heights: “I don’t know how I see colour, but I see it, and I like it. I suppose I exaggerate it a bit 1”. The charcoal drawings simultaneously invoke Hockney’s fascination for Chinese scrolls, which inspire in him the idea that black and white contain colours, as well as with the compositional changes in the Woldgate landscape over time – an exercise in patience to which he had to subscribe to in order to paint the same view on five different occasions."

I am afraid that my photos of what came out of that process won't begin to do them justice but it will give you an idea. Had I never really seen a Hockney in person before? That seems unlikely but in looking at these pieces, most certainly the ipad paintings, I fell into them with a click of "Oh, now I get it." And yet when Remi, my companion, came to join me later on, he was undecided as to the "why" of using an ipad, the validity of the search. I told him that it had been the subject of numerous discussions in the press when Mr. Hockney unveiled the first ipad pieces, which were done in 2009. At the time he responded about his use of the ipad, "Who wouldn't want one? Picasso or Van Gogh would have snapped one up." 

You see? There is Van Gogh again. And I can't help but think he must be right when imagining poor Vincent trudging out to the fields with his easel and array of brushes on his back that inspired the locals to call him "the porcupine." How much easier would it have been to simply carry an ipad and no paints at all?

Not to mention there is an immediacy to the works created that is really present in the final result, one that is quite in sync (sorry about that) with our current fast-forward times. One thing that I did notice however is that the technology that Mr. Hockney is using has improved since his first ipad work - the colors are so vibrant as not to be believed now, quite different from his initial pieces which, in their faded state, seemed like copies of an idea wishing to be realized. 

One of the aspects that charmed me most of this exhibition was seeing how the children there responded to the ipad pieces, which seemed almost purposefully hung low on the walls for their enjoyment. And they did, as I did, for in viewing Mr. Hockney's "The Arrival of Spring" I couldn't help but be carried away on a whistle of the enchanted hope that such a very fine season brings and the promise of a beautiful new.








"The Arrival of Spring" is not David Hockney's first collaboration in Arles.

In 1988, commissioned by La Fondation Vincent Van Gogh d’Arles, David Hockney created three portraits of chairs after one of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings – Van Gogh’s Chair (1888). 
“Because of the many viewpoint seen in these pictures, the eye is forced to move all the time. When the perspective moves through time, you begin to covert time into space. As you move, the shapes of the chairs change, and the straight lines of the floor also seem to move in different ways.”
- David Hockney (Hockney’s Pictures, 2004)


If you happen to be in Provence, please do stop by and see this wonderful exhibition.

David Hockney, "The Arrival of Spring"
Fondation Vincent Van Gogh Arles
35 ter rue de Docteur Fanton
13200 - Arles
Tel. (+33) 04 90 93 08 08

From October 11th 2015 to January 10th 2016
Open Tuesday through Sunday, 11am to 6pm
Admission is 9 Euros, 4 Euros for young people and students, free for children under 12


I will leave you with one of my favorite photos I have taken in a really long time. 
Thank you for being here,
Heather

33 comments:

  1. David Hockney is one of my favorite artists Heather.

    Thank you so much for this feature of his works of art at The Foundation Vincent van Gogh in Arles! A visual feast, such an accomplishment that at his age he is open to using modern technology to experiment with methods of creating art!
    The last image of the young boy gazing at a work of art is truly what we want, art lovers at a young age who will appreciate The Arts for years to come!

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena

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    1. Oh, I am so glad that you enjoyed this Karena. You do so much to communicate about art and artists, I am happy to do a tiny bit in return!

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  2. What a treat to see. I always fo to Hockney shows when they're in town. These look so ight hearted. The venue is beautiful also. Love the photo of the young boy studying the painting. Thanks for this posting.

    Sandra Sallin apartfrommyart.com

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    1. You are welcome Sandy! It doesn't surprise me that you enjoy his work at all. And yes, the venue is magnificent - a modern structure imposed upon and within a 15th century building!

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  3. I don't know anything about art so I won't even try to leave a comment about the artwork. My comment would be "it's nice. Good colors?" But your photo at the end! I love that so much. The way he's framed in the painting's pathway and how he's standing so close he's clearly zeroed in on something far beyond his scale. I love it. And what brilliant commentary to be found with the woman taking a low quality cell phone photo probably so she "can remember it" while the boy is just absorbing it. I'm happy for him that he can be organically overwhelmed.
    Note: this sounds judgier than I have license to judge. God knows I whip my iPhone out far too often instead of trusting my mind and my senses to adequately appreciate something beautiful. Did you happen to connect with this boy's parents? I'm sure they'd love this photo so much.

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    1. I did not. :( Already it is quite a step forward for me to actually be photographing people - truly! So I was photographing on the sly and very, very quickly too as I was late to the opening and most of the crowd was already out in the courtyard sipping wine.

      Technically, the photo is not right in that the lower right hand corner of the painting on the back wall should not be touching his head...but I kind of like it...it is almost as if he were looking at one painting and dreaming of another in thought bubble form!

      It was truly beautiful seeing how immediately all of the children present connected with the pieces rather than standing around coming up with something cool to say about them!

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    2. I love how it's aligned. You've seen my "photography" so it's kind of like Tammy Faye Baker saying she loves your makeup, but I love how his head is in line with the frame almost like he just walked out of it.

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    3. I don't tell you nearly enough how grateful I am for all of the many, many times that you have made me laugh out loud. Guffaw even. But then there is always a point too. YOU HAVE TO MEET ELLIE. Je t'adore Stephen Andrew...

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  4. My favorite photo too. Oh, my darling, how I wish I could have been there with you! We would have had such fun! At least your photos give me a sense of the exhibition, and your review helps make sense of a Hockney exhibition in Arles. Yes, there's more connect van Gogh and the old Brit from Yorkshire than you might think. A lovely review, a lovely glimpse at your life in one of the most beautiful places in the world, je t'embrasse, bisous, G.

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    1. Merci, mille fois merci, this means so much coming from you! And yes, we would have had a wonderful time and I would have wisked you away to lunch on a terrace afterwards as it was a gorgeous "California day" as we call it in my family. Much, much Love to you.

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  5. Mrs. Abstract and I love the paintings of David Hockney. We saw the exhibit of his works in San Francisco 2 years ago. I remember the trees and landscapes, tunnel of trees, iPad watercolors, iPad videos and portraits of different people.

    I stood in the room transfixed by the iPad videos of the “live” moments of nature. A feeling as if I’m walking with the artist.

    Shortly after the seeing the exhibition Mrs. Abstract and I saw a documentary film,which I borrowed from our local library, about David Hockney,.

    We, including the child in your wonderful photo, are all sharing art, the joy of art.

    “What is art but praise.”

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    1. I would have loved to have seen the ipad videos Edgar. I need to look them up, they must be online somewhere! And yes, art can do many things but when it invokes joy...that is truly a wonderful moment.

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  6. Heather .. so crisp, clean, creative, beautiful .. I can't help but wonder and marvel at the difference more than a century has made in the "process" .. from paint stained fingers to the precision of an Ipad .. wow ...

    As always, Mahalo et Merci for a beautiful post.

    Aloha et Au revoir,
    Bill

    www.kauai-to-paris.com

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    1. Your response is spot on, Bill. I actually read in an interview that sometimes Mr. Hockney catches himself wiping his fingers as if he had paint on them after completing a painting on his ipad!
      Merci for your kind words...

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  7. I can't say that I was ever an admirer of Hockney's work; really didn't have an opinion either way. However, I'm in love with these images. They reach into your soul, don't they! Especially love the image of the rain drops falling on the pond. And...I am impressed that an artist his age has embraced our modern technology to such a creative extent.

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    1. I agree with everything that you said 100% Cleo. It is all rather impressive, isn't it? On one of the art blogs that I came across while researching the post they called him a "crabby old man painter" but he is still going strong!

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  8. I think I saw this show........could that be over a year or TWO AGO?I do not remember any of the paintings here but I do recall what you have spoken about.The IPAD etc..........I am NOT a MODERN ART FAN.But the scale and the English country side spoke to ME!
    YOUR favorite shot is DELICIOUS!I agree with MISTER ANDREW...............the BOYS parents would LOVE THIS!
    XO
    PS.NO more BOOT!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. No more boot!!! That is the best news!!!

      And if I remember correctly (you know that is tricky), the ipad paintings were created in 2011 and the charcoal drawings in 2013 - so it is entirely possible that you have seen it already. :)

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  9. Great Post. I remember seeing "Woman Being Served Tea" when it was first acquired by the MOMA about 10 years ago. Hockney's paintings in your photos just pop out - really amazing.. I watched a pretty good documentary of Hockney on Netflix.

    Your photo of that boy gazing at the painting really touched me. It spoke volumes about the curiosity & wonder of children.

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    1. Isn't that boy amazing? I feel lucky to have been at the right place, right time.

      And I will search out that documentary, thank you!

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  10. Beautiful bright colours in those paintings. And the path and roadways make me think I could step into the scene. Hockney's work is unfamiliar to me, but very appealing.

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    1. Lorrie, that is exactly how I felt too - kind of surprising when you think of the palette used too!

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  11. An enjoyable review to read, Thank you.
    I'm not sure about Van Gogh's reaction to an ipad as a vehicle for his art. Love it, methinks, yes. However, his art heart, I feel, is so much a part of engaging himself in to the physical process, I don't think he'd be cool with an ipad taking his place. To me using an ipad feels like giving control to the camera ( or a brush) by typing what I want, click Send/take the picture, camera goes out takes, pictures, uploads, and I chose from what the camera captures. What, no bugs, no rain, no chasing birds, talking to flowers, swearing at the sun? Doesn't feel right to me. I need those experiences that an ipad can't provide me, used indoors or out.
    Yet, I like many of Hockney's ipad artworks, (but mostly his not ipad art).

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    1. From what I understand all of these works were created in situ and not reproduced from a camera image at a later date. Hence the immediacy present in each piece.

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  12. Just gorgeous - like fine oils on stainless steel plates - not sure why that comes to mind. But, I would have loved this exhibit - have always liked Hockney, but have never seen any of his iPad works, nor anything that looks like these - fascinating evolution.... a fabulous backyard pool has always been Hockney to me, but no more, he's 'bigger.' Thank you for sharing a visit to the museum.

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    1. Yes, exactly Judi! And I love the image of fine oil on stainless steel plates - certainly as there is a luminosity and depth of layering in the big pieces that I couldn't capture. You might find it interesting to know that they were printed in four parts and then mounted on dibond as a whole - so your image was really not far from the truth. :)

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  13. Wow - I love these!!! I wish I could see them in person - love the colors; I would be just like that boy! (yes, amazing picture!!). I love that they were created on an ipad!! Thank you for the glimpse into this exhibit - we appreciate getting to see it from half way around the world and your beautiful pictures and words depicting it!

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    1. Sister, you would have been like me - I couldn't stop staring at them! Remi came to join me later on so I went through the whole thing at least three times. I wish you had been here.

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  14. that last shot is especially delightful.

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  15. I don't recognise the boy but I know the woman with her daughter a few photos up.

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    1. I wish I had thought of talking to his parents! I was too busy taking photos and appreciating the work!

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  16. How wonderful these are in France now! I loved the huge Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy in London a few years ago, when he'd just started doing these electronic pics. There, it was mostly about the massive landscapes in the same style made by joining painted canvasses together. (PS. We were IN the Provencal raincloud yesterday!)

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