Handmade Hockney

Listening to the radio and David Hockney talking about his forthcoming exhibition at the RA. Interesting to hear him talk about his ipad drawings as simply a different medium – uniquely good for some things, but not a panacea. He also talked of the essential role of the hand, of the craft and technique of making pictures: work that is ‘made by’ the artist themselves rather than commissioned (in a Damian Hirst sense).

I am looking forward to the exhibition immensely. But the conversation reminded me of a comment I once heard in the National Gallery. It was thirty years ago, on a rainy Sunday afternoon in February, while looking at the Hobbema (still a favourite painting). An old, rather bedraggled, woman, burdened with shopping bags, wandered vaguely through the empty gallery, pausing to look at a painting here and there. On leaving she muttered confidingly to the attendant “Aren’t they wonderful: of course, they’re all handmade you know”. I loved the way it seemingly made a simple (naive) link between Rembrandt and the WI and have always remembered it fondly. Hockney was making exactly the same point.

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