A Bigger Picture: My Favourite Top Ten Quotes from David Hockney

A Bigger Picture: My Favourite Top Ten Quotes from David Hockney
23 January 2012

David Hockney: Apart from his new show at the RA called A Bigger Picture which is now stoked to be a sure-fire art blockbuster of the year, the newly crowned Greatest British Living Artist has been making huge headlines for his supposed to be a jab at Damien Hirst when he wrote "all the works were made by the artist himself, personally" in a poster for his new show.

Art pundits clamoured for such a story to pit two superstar artists against each other. All of a sudden, we have our own version of Nadal and Rafa in the limelight of contemporary art. Controversy or not, it has opened a dialogue about the role of assistants in the creative evolution of an artist. As for when should it be considered the work of the artist or his assistant is as complicated as defining what or when something becomes art. But in general, for British art, it's all good – all publicity is good publicity especially because these artists are both English.

Now before I visit the quasi-retrospective and write a better review of David's Yorkshire landscape paintings and Ipad drawings, I found some favourite quotes from David Hockney, which may not be as controversial as the one above, but still delivers the punch that makes you think hard about art and why Hockney at 74, is still as relevant as ever.

Interview with David Hockney's new exhibition at the RA (Channel 4 News)

My Favourite Top Ten Quotes from David Hockney

  1. On people calling him the greatest British living artist: "You wouldn't call Picasso an award-winning artist, would you? ( Harper's Bazaar Interview, Nov 21, 2011)

  2. On why painting is still a superior art form than photography: "Do you know what Edvard Munch said about photography? He said photography can never depict heaven or hell…My sister, who is just a bit older than me, she's a retired district nurse, she's just gone mad with the digital camera and computer – move anything about; she doesn't worry about whether it's authentic or stuff like that – she's just making pictures." (Interview with Jonathan Jones, the Guardian, March 4, 2004)

  3. On how to look at nature: " When you really look at nature like I have been doing…. I mean really look, then you quickly realise we are just insects, stupid little creatures. And you do get a bit of humility. They chopped down some of the trees I had been drawing. I was angry at first, but you then realise that you have another subject: is it dead, is it not? The wood is always alive if you look." (Interview with Tim Adams, the Guardian, November 1, 2009)

Interview with David Hockney on his Painting Routine (Studio 360)

  1. On how fun it is to use an Ipad: "The other great new thing in here (Ipad) is the distribution of the image. That is profoundly new. And the fact that I could make a drawing of the sunrise at 6 am and at 7 am send it out to 20 people that very morning and at 8 o'clock they all liked it….They get a very fresh picture of the sunrise from me two hours earlier….If I had just a pencil and paper by my bedside, the sun wouldn't be that interesting." (Interview at BBC Click)

  2. On his own vanity: "I do have the vanity of an artist. I like my works to be seen." (Interview with xtraonline.com)

  3. On inspiration and crisis: "Inspiration. She never visits the lazy. Crisis -She stimulates" (Tateshots: David Hockney)

  1. On losing his hearing: "I'm going deaf you see, so I'm not that social which gives you advantages. I don't care if I'm never invited back. I can't be that social because I can't hear that well. That's why I can't go to the theatre much anymore. I used to see everything all the time. But you just have to accept it. I can see better. I think it actually made me see better. I've become aware of it.  

  2. On why media and television distort our vision: "Power is spreading to the people…Television asks you to stay in and will sell you something instead of saying, Go out and have a look at it! (Interview, BBC FrontRow)

  3. On art schools today: "I used to point out, at art school you can teach the craft; it's the poetry you can't teach. But now they try to teach poetry and not the craft." (Interview with Maev Kennedy, the Guardian)

  1. On the real score about his latest controversial comment: "It was a joke I made. I was going to put up a notice [at my exhibition] saying: "I personally hand-painted all the pictures myself. I made no reference to anybody else. I knew it was quite funny, that's all." (Interview with Ossian Ward of Time Out London, 2012)

Watch out for my review of the exhibition.