Last week I had the good fortune to view the David Hockney exhibit, A Bigger Exhibition, at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. What a treat! Clearly, this artist knows color. His intense yellows, vibrant oranges, and bright blues and greens are explosive in their depiction of the numerous portraits and plein air landscapes that comprise the majority of this exhibit.
I’ve been a Hockney fan for a while, but what really caught my attention this time was his exploration of new mediums. In 2009, just two years after the iPhone was launched, Hockney began using it as an artistic tool, using the touchscreen to “paint” dogs, flowers and everyday objects; then emailing the images to his friends. Lucky friends! In 2010 he turned to the iPad, and since then has positively exploited still and video cameras as well, pushing technology to portray the world as he sees it.
In one room of A Bigger Exhibition, attendees view an almost “Cubist-like” movie, created from digital video cameras. The results were synchronized and presented on nine 55-inch NEC screens to depict varied viewpoints of a changing landscape. Another room showed individual stroke and color choices as they were applied on an iPad – giving us a lesson in how Hockney actually paints. Throughout all, his distinct style, vision and color palette remain the same.
For many of today’s artists, the integration of traditional techniques with new mediums may not be a new phenomenon. But what is blatantly clear in this show is the transference of skills, and of vision, from one medium to many.
Artistic skills are transferable. Don’t feel hemmed in by one major or area of study. Just because you decide to pursue a degree in painting, or sculpture, or fashion design doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re tied to that particular medium forever. What’s learned in one can be applied to another. David Hockney has clearly shown us the way to do that.
So, here’s my question to you: Given the skills you’ll gain in college, what limitations will you leave behind? What boundaries will you push beyond? I hope you’ll let me know.