Alejandro Escobar

David Hockney – Vanishing point and time

I did take a look at Hockney just out of curiosity, and I have to say I’m really surprised about his body of work and also about his reflections on basic yet really important matters on visual representation.

This is a video from a presentation he made last year (2015) at Getty in Los Angeles, on this post I will focus on the things that interested me the most.

Neither Vanishing Points nor Shadows

He began talking about Chinese handscrolls, a continuous roll of paper on which images are painted. He was specially interested on making a point around the absence of vanishing points and shadows, not only in Chinese art but also in Persian, Indian and Japanese. He even pointed out that European art from the 11th century share this same principle but everything changed since the European renaissance.

From the other side of Geometric Perspective 

By recreating Brunelleschi’s “Camara Oscura”, Hockney concludes that artists that used this process are responsable for introducing shadows and geometric perspective in to paintings. He suggests that this technical advantage was not such a good idea after all and that it might be good to explore a different approach to representation of reality.

He is convinced that perspective should be reversed to bring more attention to the foreground, that is why at the moment he is experimenting with “photographic drawings”, a technique in which he overlaps lots of different photographs of an specific object to create an image that is not only composed with inverse perspective but also has an “expanded” time lapse because a single photograph is only able to contain one specific fraction of time.


On one hand, I really like the concept of playing or even getting rid of the vanishing point, although this is not a new concept for me, I feel I need to study it properly to explore different ways to approach the representation of 3D space. On the other hand, I agree with the idea of using different photographs to expand time but I am not attracted by Hockney’s photographic drawing.

Interesting quote by Hockney

“Video brings it’s time to you and you bring your time to painting, and that difference will always be there.”