Footnote to Hockney


A couple of weeks ago I gave David Hockney’s exhibition at the Royal Academy ‘A Bigger Picture’ a high five and since then I have been fielding comments equivalent to ‘Him?’ and ‘Really?’ Much of this seems to centre on the ipad drawings citing either a distrust of the ‘gimmicky’ nature of his use of the medium or a skepticism towards the visual potential of the medium itself and for those of you who commented, you weren’t alone.

On doing a ‘bigger’ search, I found out that Brian Sewell compares him in his review to 19 other artists, including Anish Kapoor, Pablo Picasso and Freddy Gore to say ‘Why?’ and The Telegraph uses brackets to explain the ipad drawings, which Alastair Sooke finds ‘irksome.’  Bendor Grosvenor gave it 5/5 for fun, before going on to admit that he likes his drawings the best, while The Guardian is remarkably smug about public mania in Hockney’s ‘wonderful‘ show (‘their’ quotation marks). And for some reason, before it’s even open, Hockney says this about Damien Hirst, which prompts the Guardian to make a poll and predictably find out this.

Which left me with four new questions:

Where are all these overblown shows coming from anyway? This year alone in London there’s been Gerhard Richter, Leonardo Da Vinci, Lucian Freud, Pablo Picasso, and coming up is Damien Hirst and Turner.

How significant is it that we are getting this onslaught now of the great and the good, not to mention the white and the male, at the same time that we are facing massive cuts across the country including the arts?

At the time of massive cuts across the country including the arts, when Hockney could be championing the importance of funding emerging contemporary visual arts, is art vs craft the most pertinent debate of the day?

Where is the solidarity?

And two answers:

If you’re in London and you have a way of getting in for free then go to see it. If you’re in London and can spare the eye watering £14 then I’d recommend it. But once you’re in, you’re on your own.

There is none. I recently compared galleries to television channels in a discussion about how institutions contain and deflect artistic critique that is directed at themselves. If that were true then this recent flurry of curatorial efforts on behalf of the major galleries would be the equivalent of a TV ratings war.