David Hockney, Cambridge


I am planning with my co-curator, Martin Gayford, an exhibition about David Hockney for Cambridge, as a collaboration between the Heong Gallery at Downing and the Fitzwilliam Museum.

Over the course of his long career David Hockney has intensively investigated how we see the world around us and how the acts of seeing relate to the making of marks on flat surfaces. This investigation has involved radical questioning of the conventions of linear perspective and the technology of photography. His most prominent entry into the public and scientific debate came with his exploration of optical systems of imitation – the camera obscura and camera lucida – culminating in his now famous book, Secret Knowledge (2001) in which he re-wrote the history of western naturalistic as art and its alternative aftermath through artists’ uses of optical devices to achieve precise representation in a “photographic “manner. From this time to the present day his visual experiments have involved a highly conscious dialogue between human observation and technical means to imitate the seen world.

The exhibition will focus in a compact manner upon Hockney’s use of devices and unconventional techniques of perspective to make us see the processes of representation in new and radical ways. This is a good time to look back on these key issues at the heart of Hockney’s  art, in the context of a University that is a world leader in perception, cognition, neuro-science, computer vision and artificial intelligence. It will be different in kind from previous exhibitions, very focussed and selectively thematic, setting his ideas in the context of historical and contemporary ideas about seeing and representing.

It is planned to open in June 2021.