A Response to David Hockney’s theories and the implications for artists and art historians:
I was already a bit familiar with Hockney’s theories so there was no level of shock or surprise while watching the film. It was however quite interesting to see how Hockney and Falco came to the conclusion that many of the advances in realism were possibly achieved through the use of camera obscura and curved mirrors. It does make sense and it is really no different than the tools we use today to obtain proper scale and realistic images. I don’t feel that using these techniques makes the artists any less of the “masters” of their time, even if they kept these techniques on the down low. What famous restaurant gives away their secret recipe or what big business reveals all their money making strategies. This was their livelihood, if they were that much better than the next guy then that in turn was more money and recognition. It is one thing to trace an image but quite another to make it look realistic. I say kudos to them for figuring out an effective way to bring their art to life.
I have read that many art historians reacted unfavorably to the theories of Hockney and Falco. Many felt that they were implying that the artists were “cheaters” but I don’t feel that is what they had intended. Granted I haven’t read the Secret Knowledge by Hockney. From my perspective however I think that he was just trying to understand how the artists suddenly became better and pointing out ways in which he could explain this. As far as the art historians go it is never easy to accept theories that go against something that you had previously believed to be true. Who likes to be wrong?