Thursday, November 29, 2012

David Hockney, Space and the Unphotographable

'We see space through time...somehow you make space in your head' - David Hockney, 2011

David Hockney discusses the process of making his painting 'A Closer Grand Canyon', interviewed by Christian Lund at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in April 2011 as part of the Louisiana Talks series.
In the discussion he talks about representing space, spatial perception through vision, the limitations of single lens photography and 3d film and the potential for representing space through multiple viewpoints.

The grand canyon is a notoriously difficult space to represent. Hockney discusses how when there, you are forced to move your head to look around and into the space - there is no perspectival view, no point of focus, and how at times the space alternates between being deeply spatial and a flat canvas in front of the viewer. (The scene at the end of the Truman Show comes to mind)

He discussed how as he tried to photograph the Grand Canyon (see below) he realises it is unphotographable, saying that 'cameras push things away....(they) always make things a little more distant'. He found that photographing it, even as a collage with multiple perspectives flattens the sense of space.

The Grand Canyon South Rim with Rail, Arizona, Oct. 1982. Photographic Collage, 43x137 in.

The Grand Canyon South Rim with Rail, Arizona, Oct. 1982. Photographic Collage, 43x137 in.

So instead, he painted it - using smaller canvases to make one large immersive canvas that the viewer 'scans'  As the viewer scans the piece, the image of the space forms in their head. The representation is immersive, direct but more crucially navigated by the viewer. They form an embodied image of the landscape.

He then goes on to relate this to work he is currently making using nine cameras to represent the landscape in Yorkshire.

A Closer Grand Canyon, 1998 oil on 60 canvases 81x291 in.


  1. very interesting post

    and such a wonderful painting

  2. This is interesting! I enjoyed reading your great post.Thanks for the valuable information and insights you have shared here.

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  3. So much huge captured pics its all amazing