Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Van Gogh and David Hockney

Some people might think that Van Gogh and David Hockney would be an unlikely duo. Others think that art makes strange bedfellows. In any case, I was doing some online reading this morning after waking up early, 3 am to be precise. A quick google search found a rather in-depth article on Van Gogh's letters. They've already all been translated so what is new. Well the new appears to be a complete translation as opposed to the one previously authorized by Van Gogh's family. Vincent it would seem had a few racy moments. Some letters were withheld and others translated with fewer phrases from the vernacular. The project has taken three men many years to complete. It is being published in six volumes that will weigh in fairly close to Mike Tyson's fighting weight. Here is one tidbit from Waldemar Januszczak's article...
I did, though, enjoy an exchange between Vincent and the painter Emile Bernard, preserved now in one of the reworked letters from Arles.

“Why do you say that Degas has trouble getting a hard-on?” thunders Vincent. “Degas lives like a little lawyer, and he doesn’t like women, knowing that if he liked them and f***ed them a lot he would become hopeless at painting… Rubens, ah, there you have it, he was a handsome man and a good f***er, Courbet too; their health allowed them to drink, eat, f***.” Vincent himself believed that refraining from sex was good for his art. It made his paintings “spunkier”.
The article by Januszczak is quite a fascinating read. Included with it is the usual listing of optional reads including one on David Hockney. The art work shown above is not Van Gogh's but Hockney's. It's used as the promo to a very funny interview with him while he has been most recently in England. Hockney, in addition to everything else he has tried, has chosen to start doing art on his iPhone. He's not the first but is perhaps the most famous artist to have made images with the Apple creation. The article is not only interesting but will make you laugh. Hockney is a very funny man. Thinking about this passage from the interview, I do wonder if Van Gogh would be using an iPhone. I'm thinking he would.
There are several drawings of Hockney’s brother, Paul, and his sister, Margaret; and in each picture the subjects seem mesmerised by a small gadget in their hands, which turns out to be an iPhone — Hockney’s latest enthusiasm: “Yes, my brother and sister sat there for three or four hours, totally engrossed.” Hockney is thrilled that he has finally persuaded Celia Birtwell to buy one so that he can send her pictures: “I draw flowers on them and send them out every morning to a group of people.”

He demonstrates, tracing his finger over the tiny screen with such absorption that I worry he will stop talking altogether. “Who would have thought the telephone would bring back drawing?” he exclaims with glee.

“It’s such a great little device, it has every Shakespeare play in it and the Oxford English dictionary. In your pocket! But it’s also amusing, look at this.” He blows into it and his new toy becomes a harmonica.

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