David Hockney's theories blew me away. Upon his observations of works of art from the 14th through 16th centuries, he found many specific similarities between seemingly unrelated pieces. He observed the advancements in understanding perspective in space and the correctness of proportions in human figures. Hockney found a specific point in history where it seemed that artists made a huge jump in understanding space and how to apply it to the canvas.
Hockney believes, through extensive research, that artists began using the camera obscura to paint their subjects to achieve their perfect proportions. Later, he says concave mirrors were used for this and finding perspective, until actual lenses were developed. And finally, the use of lenses combined with mirrors to correct the backwards-ness of the reflections.
He “proved” his theories by actually reproducing paintings and drawings of the time, using the methods he proposed. And it worked, very well. He pointed out that the use of looking at something through a lens gives depth of field, pulling some things out of focus, which is seen in many of the paintings of that period. Also, he shows how many paintings suddenly began to portray lots of left handed people. This would be due to painting the exact reflection through the mirror.
Although there is not much tangible evidence in history to prove these theories, I must say I believe it. And, I do not feel let down, or disappointed in the “Masters of the Renaissance” because of it. If we think of the Masters as graphic designers for their time, then they are most likely looking for the same thing we are; big money. Most all of these classic works of art were commissioned and paid for by an organization or person. I am not saying that they cared only about making money and nothing else, just that they had picky clients and deadlines, just like we do today. We use any tools we have available to us to make our jobs easier, so why shouldn't they? They are still the Masters and amazing artists, and they were very smart about it, too.