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A Bigger Message

Conversations with David Hockney

Martin Gayford

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A unique self-portrait of one of the most influential artists of our time


Sparky, illuminating and entertaining – here is a decade’s worth of conversations between David Hockney and art critic Martin Gayford that explore via anecdote, reflection, passion and humour the very nature of creativity.

David Hockney is possibly the world’s most popular living painter, but he is also something else: an incisive and original thinker on art. Here are the fruits of his lifelong meditations on the problems and paradoxes of representing a three-dimensional world on a flat surface.

How does drawing make one ‘see things clearer, and clearer, and clearer still’, as Hockney suggests? What significance do different media – from a Lascaux cave wall to an iPad – have for the way we see? What is the relationship between the images we make and the reality around us? How have changes in technology affected the way artists depict the world?

The conversations are punctuated by wise and witty observations from both parties on numerous other artists – Van Gogh or Vermeer, Caravaggio, Monet, Picasso – and enlivened by shrewd insights into the contrasting social and physical landscapes of California, where Hockney spent many years, and Yorkshire, his birthplace. Some of the people he has encountered along the way – from Henri Cartier-Bresson to Billy Wilder – make entertaining appearances in the dialogue.

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'A rewarding book that turns out to be far more than simply the story of how and why Hockney made his most recent pictures. It offers a series of snappy essays on the complicated act of looking. The exchanges with Hockney are enlightening and provocative, and Gayford has framed this dialogue with skilful narrative and art historical context'
Times Literary Supplement

'There is much to be enjoyed in - and much to be discovered from this book … you will find out much else behind Hockney’s extraordinarily voracious appetite for reinvention and self-scrutiny'
Art Quarterly

'Destined to become a classic'

'I devoured this from cover to cover and can highly recommend it, because much like Gayford’s other recent book on Lucian Freud (Man with a Blue Scarf) the conversational flow leads the reader to many other ideas around and beyond its subject'
The Bookseller

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 22.9 x 15.2 cm

Extent: 248 pp

Illustrations: 161

Publication date: 26 September 2011

ISBN: 9780500238875

Contents List

1. Turner with an iPhone • 2. A Yorkshire Paradise • 3. Drawing • 4.The Trap of Naturalism • 5. The Problems of Depiction • 6. A Bigger and Bigger Picture • 7. Scale: A Bigger Studio • 8. Seeing More Clearly • 9. Drawing on a Telephone and in a Computer • 10. Painting with Memory • 11. Photography and Drawing • 12. Caravaggio’s Camera • 13. Way Out West: Space Exploration • 14. Cleaning Claude • 15. Movies and Moving through the Landscape • 16. Music and Movement • 17.Van Gogh and the Power of Drawing • 18. Drawing on an iPad • 19.The Power of Imges • 20. Theatre • 21. Lighting • 22. Nine Screens on Woldgate

About the Author

Martin Gayford is art critic for The Spectator and the author of acclaimed books on Van Gogh, Constable and Michelangelo. He is the author of many books, including Man with a Blue Scarf, Rendez-vous with Art, (with Philippe de Montebello), A Bigger Message, Modernists & Mavericks, A History of Pictures (with David Hockney), The Pursuit of Art and Spring Cannot be Cancelled, all published by Thames & Hudson.