Hockney's theory ... is a technological revisionist program

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Hockney's theory ... is a technological revisionist program

From Timothy Stotz

Published before 2005


My reply to Hockney's original thesis was published in the New Yorker in February 2000. He makes a passing remark in his book that some were "shocked" by his assertions at that time. I was not shocked, I was appalled and disgusted at his ad hoc logic, his conspiratorial views, and his snake-oil selling. Hockney's theory ignores too much, and it is right and good to repeatedly remind people of the major omission: the social history of art in Europe, the master-apprentice relationship.

I am in the middle of pre-doctoral research on Mr. Ted Seth Jacobs, a living artist who was mentioned earlier in this forum by JV from Canada. Pursuant to writing about Mr. Jacobs' own studies and subsequent teaching, I have established a 500 year long daisy-chain of 4-6 year apprenticeships, master to pupil, that connect Mr Jacobs to the best of the American artist-illustrators, to three centuries of French Prix de Rome winners and before, to the Italian Baroque and the High Renaissance.

Some of those relationships were twelve or fifteen years in duration, and it is clear that they functioned by a human mechanism of call and response: the master demonstrated on paper or canvas or clay, and the pupils followed as best they could. The master to pupil lineage from which Mr. Jacobs descends includes figures like Frank Vincent Dumond, Howard Pyle, Alexandre Cabanel, Ingres, J.L. David, Boucher, Watteau, Charles LeBrun, Simon Vouet, Caravaggio, Annibale Carracci, and Michelangelo, among many others. There is a direct, unbroken line, of these teachers of teachers, stretching all the way to the late Byzantine workshops of pre-Renaissance Italy. Mr. Jacobs' pedagogy is historically cumulative, and it currently shows no need for lenses or mirrors of any kind.

The point is that the principles and practice of the most refined artists of the classical tradition have always been demonstrated to and cultivated in the coming generation by aging masters like Mr. Jacobs. He has single-handedly produced or lengthily critiqued a suspiciously large number of high-profile figures in contemporary classical art: Anthony Ryder, Jacob Collins, Randolph Melick, Michael Grimaldi, myself and many others.

In short, there is continuity to the traditional pictorial culture, it persists in its full human character, and it exists completely to one side of the post-Cubist, hi-tech and celebrity culture to which Hockney belongs. There should be no quibbling about Hockney's theory, it is middlebrow intellectual entertainment, and is neither art nor art history. His is a technological revisionist program, and has nothing to offer the continuing evolution of a classical, master-apprentice based artistic vision. His book is irrelevant, and it should be publicly humiliated until he gives everyone their money back.

As an artist, Hockney is categorically masterless, can only ape C├ęzanne and Picasso, and he seeks to critique the masters whom those men openly revered. Hockney shows he knows absolutely nothing of the nature of art, and suspects we know less than him. He is wrong on all counts. Only those who can do better know better, and it is our duty to speak the truth against him. I believe that my work is a rebuttal to Hockney's argument and invite people's comments: www.timothystotz.com

TS, France