From the moment David Hockney began to suspect that the Old Masters had created many of their paintings with the help of lenses—in effect tracing their subjects— he insisted he was not saying they cheated.
“Optical devices certainly don’t paint pictures,” Hockney said. “Let me say now that the use of them diminishes no great artist.”
Yet as he studied prints of five centuries’ worth of paintings on a “Great Wall” in his Los Angeles studio, there was an unmistakable gotcha to his mission. He knew that many art historians would be horrified at what he was suggesting.
Did Vermeer use a lens to help him capture the intricate patterns in the folds of a tablecloth? Or Caravaggio, to re-create a curving, foreshortened lute? Even Rembrandt fell under Hockney’s gaze. He could not have been looking through a lens while creating his haunting self-portraits. “But,” Hockney said, “he might have for the helmets and armor.”
Read on at Koop Films.
David Hockney’s Secret Knowledge
Part 2 – There is another version here.
David Hockney, The Lost Secrets of the Old Masters: camera lucida obscura
This is a very interesting interview with David Hockney, where he explains and demonstrates the use of camera obscuras and camera lucidas in the artwork of the Old Masters chronicled in his book Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters.
Part 2 – Part 3
David Hockney – Pleasures of the eye
The other parts are here.