Documentary photography

The discussion below draws on my work as leisure student for OCA course ‘Gesture and Meaning’ and ‘Documentary Photography’. For more details and links see: http://photography.zemniimages.info/documentary/

The documentary photograph is mute. It doesn’t tell us anything; rather it shows something. But it shows it in a way that offers the viewer the possibility of connecting with it and starting to ascribe meaning to the photograph.

(Navarro 2012 p20)

A documentary [photograph, film] takes an audience to an existing or past reality and is so compelling that they can empathise with mind, emotion and imagination. In that sense documentary is an ambitious creative and critical enterprise.

(deJong, Knudsen and Rothwell 2011, p23)

Documentary testifies…to the bravery or the manipulativeness…of the photographer, who entered a situation of physical danger…human decay…and saved us the trouble. Or, who, like astronauts, entertained us by showing us the places we never hope to go.

Martha Rossler 1992 p308

What is documentary?

The Latin word documentum means, amongst other things, proof or evidence. Director, producer and writer John Grierson (1898-1972) was the first to use the term ‘documentary’ within the visual media in a 1926 article on Robert Flaherty’s 1921 ethnographic film ‘Nanook’.

Until then, realist photography had been accepted as the norm. So it was seen as inherently ‘documentary’ in the sense that it ‘ promoted a systematic recording of visual reality for the purpose of providing information and encouraging understanding of the world (Rogers, 1994)

‘photography itself was the technical analogue to the absolute belief in the legitimacy of appearances, a belief whose philosophical expression was, of course, positivism and whose artistic expression was realism and naturalism’

Solomon-Godeau, 1994, p155)

Arguably all photographs become documents.

Social documentary records the conditions that humans endure and the nature of their interactions with the world. In a practical sense it is the re-creation of a condition or event, something factually accurate that doesn’t contain any falsity or fictional element. Rather than making an account of the subject in words, the photographer chooses to use a method of visual communication to inform the viewer.

Actually there is no limit to the world of external reality the photographer may record. Every subject is significant, considered in its context and viewed in the light of historical forces. It is the spirit of his [sic] approach which determines the value of the photographer’s endeavour, that plus his technical ability to say what he wants to say..His purpose must be clear and unified and his mood simple and modest. Montage of his personality over his subject will only defeat the serious aims of documentary photography.

McCausland 1939

The development of documentary has been multi-dimensional. Visual recording of events has mushroomed with the spread of visual media like the Internet, iPads and mobile phones. Uploading immediate images has been instrumental in informing us of unfolding events, disasters and conflicts. Instagram meet-ups enable many people to jointly document places and events and share their views on social networking sites. In a sense, then, we have all become documentary photographers.

Listen to Miranda Gavin

Types: reportage, visual ethnography, street photography, travel photography.

Documentary: approaches and photographers

Key issues

Can documentary photography ever be entirely value-free?

Documentary purports to produce truth and fact for us rather than the connotations required by the photographer, art director or editor. But, all photographs are subjective in the sense that they represent the creator’s interpretation of the scene – the photographer chooses what to take and when, even if they don’t have a conscious motivation.

See Documentary typologies for Eugenics

Where does the boundary lie between social documentary and photojournalism or editorial photography (pp.69–71 of the course reader )?

Ethics, integrity and truth

How will you operate as a photographer?This is a major question relevant to your production ethics.

  • Will you ask permission or will you be a fly on the wall, a ghost who never affects the image?
  • If you tell people what you’re doing, then they’ll react differently to you; they may be guarded or wary of how you’ll portray them.

Photomontage, Mohamed Bourouissa and performance.

 

The Decisive Moment (or not?)

Spectacle and voyeurism

Street Photography

Portfolio: Shooting from the Hip

Portraits

Can a documentary photographer make a difference?

Reality and hyperreality

Denotation and connotation

Exhibiting documentary images

 

Key questions in analysing social documentary

• What is the subject of the photograph?
• What was the context?
• Was the photographer working for pay?
• Was the taking of the photograph consensual or non-consensual? (i.e. did the subject agree to have their photograph taken?)
• Does the photograph reveal any particular ‘trademark’ or style of the photographer?
• Is the photograph successful?
• Is the photograph an example of social documentary or is it photojournalism?

Key questions in analysing documentary photographers’ work

• What is the main strength of their practice?
• What makes them different to other photographers working in a similar genre?
• Where do your chosen photographers fall in the social documentary–photojournalism spectrum? Does this matter?

Lee Friedlander

Lee Friedlander

Lee Friedlander (born July 14, 1934) is an American photographer and artist. Friedlander studied photography at the Art Center College of Design located in Pasadena, California. In 1956, he moved to New York City where he photographed jazzmusicians for record covers. In 1960, the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation awarded Friedlander a grant to focus on his art and made subsequent grants in 1962 and 1977.

1960s and 70s: black and white social landscape

His early work was influenced by Eugène Atget, Robert Frank, and Walker Evans.

Working primarily with Leica 35mm cameras and black and white film, Friedlander evolved an influential and often imitated visual language of urban “social landscape,” with many of the photographs including fragments of store-front reflections, structures framed by fences, posters and street-signs.

He also experimented with use of his own shadow as an extra element in the image – giving many of them a more haunted eerie feel of an obvious onlooker to the scene.

1960s social landscape images

1970s images

In 1963, the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House mounted Friedlander’s first solo museum show. Friedlander was then a key figure in curator John Szarkowski‘s 1967 “New Documents” exhibition, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City along with Garry Winogrand and Diane Arbus. In 1973, his work was honored in Rencontres d’Arles festival (France) with the screening “Soirée américaine : Judy Dater, Jack Welpott, Jerry Uelsmann, Lee Friedlander” présentée par Jean-Claude Lemagny.

1980s – present

Friedlander now works primarily with medium format cameras (e.g. Hasselblad Superwide). While suffering from arthritis and housebound, he focused on photographing his surroundings. His book, Stems, reflects his life during the time of his knee replacement surgery. He has said that his “limbs” reminded him of plant stems. These images display textures which were not a feature of his earlier work. In this sense, the images are similar to those of Josef Sudek who also photographed the confines of his home and studio.

Stems Images

Some of his most famous photographs appeared in the September 1985 Playboy, black and white nude photographs of Madonna from the late 1970s. A student at the time, she was paid only $25 for her 1979 set. In 2009, one of the images fetched $37,500 at a Christie’s Art House auction.

In 1990, the MacArthur Foundation awarded Friedlander a MacArthur Fellowship.

He was awarded The Royal Photographic Society’s Special 150th Anniversary Medal and Honorary Fellowship (HonFRPS) in recognition of a sustained, significant contribution to the art of photography in 2003. In 2005, the Museum of Modern Art presented a major retrospective of Friedlander’s career, including nearly 400 photographs from the 1950s to the present. In the same year he received a Hasselblad International Award. The retrospective exhibition was presented again in 2008 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA).

Lee Friedlander monograph America by Car (2010)

Images

All the images in the series are taken from the driver’s point of view, incorporating into the viewfinder all of the familiar architecture of the cockpit (dashboard, rear-view mirror, views from side windows and wing mirrors and so on). This claustrophobia presents an American landscape at odds with the car and its driver; the windscreen forms a barrier between the individual and the landscape beyond. The car can only take you so far into the wilderness. The vast majority of the images in Friedlander’s book were made after 2001, and several images hint towards the international concerns of the past decade and beyond. The road – or, rather, whatever passing motorists will notice – is where political voices are articulated in loud, upper case letters: “WE SUPPORT OUR TROOPS”, declares Little Millers diner in Alaska (p. 89). A campaign vehicle covered with pro-Obama stickers (p.104) is a prime example of using a vehicle as a legitimate extension of ideology and identity. [See Martin Parr’s From A to B (1994)].

Endless gas stations, a ubiquitous motif of the road trip narrative, inevitably contribute to the collection.

Concurrent to this retrospective, a more contemporary body of his work, America By Car, was displayed at the Fraenkel Gallery not far from SFMOMA. “America By Car” was on display at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City in late 2010.

Martin O’Neill

Cut it Out

Martin O’Neill is an Irish and British illustrator and artist who creates collages for a wide range of International clients encompassing publishing, advertising, design & installation work. His work can be seen frequently in the UK and US press. He regularly exhibits his personal collages, sketchbooks and prints and is a visiting lecturer across the UK. He lives and works on England’s South East coast with his wife and two daughters.

His enigmatic textured images combine collage, silkscreen, photography, paint, and digital techniques. Years of hands on studio experimentation has resulted in his unique and instantly recognisable style of image making. He works from a large archive of found and self generated material and also works with stock and supplied imagery.


Ed Burtynsky

Edward Burtynsky, OC (born February 22, 1955) is a Canadian photographer and artist known for his large-format photographs of industrial landscapes. Burtynsky’s most famous photographs are sweeping views of landscapes altered by industry: mine tailings, quarries, scrap piles. The grand, awe-inspiring beauty of his images is often in tension with the compromised environments they depict.

Exploring the Residual Landscape

Nature transformed through industry is a predominant theme in my work. I set course to intersect with a contemporary view of the great ages of man; from stone, to minerals, oil, transportation, silicon, and so on. To make these ideas visible I search for subjects that are rich in detail and scale yet open in their meaning. Recycling yards, mine tailings, quarries and refineries are all places that are outside of our normal experience, yet we partake of their output on a daily basis.

These images are meant as metaphors to the dilemma of our modern existence; they search for a dialogue between attraction and repulsion, seduction and fear. We are drawn by desire – a chance at good living, yet we are consciously or unconsciously aware that the world is suffering for our success. Our dependence on nature to provide the materials for our consumption and our concern for the health of our planet sets us into an uneasy contradiction. For me, these images function as reflecting pools of our times.

Ed Burtynsky website

Oil  2009

His series Oil (2009) resolves an epiphany he had in 1997, when he realised just how tightly connected all of our global activity was to petrol and its raw material – oil.

The monograph is divided into three sections:

  • images of extraction and refinement;
  • the consumption of oil and motor culture;
  •  abandoned ‘oilfields run dry’ and motor vehicles of all descriptions resigned to huge scrap heaps.

The images within Oil  evoke a terrifying sense of the sublime. It is within the third section that the images have their most potent effect, for instance seemingly endless rows of impotent, rusting fighter jets in Arizona, or a channel cutting through a canyon of stacked worn car tyres in California. Some of the most striking images are those made at the Chittagong ship breakers in Bangladesh. The proportions of the structures that the workers pick apart, almost by hand, are awesome, and just as affecting are the horrendous conditions in which they work. Although not overtly critical in any explicitly rhetorical sense (i.e. like Kennard’s montages), it is impossible to read Burtynsky’s position as anything but one of grave concern for our consumption of this valuable substance.

Some images in Burtynsky’s Oil can be interpreted from different perspectives: great stacks of compressed oil drums or bits of car parts might speak of excess and consumption but, whilst they refer to manufacturing in a past tense, these are also the raw materials for current industries, ready to be melted down and turned into new things.

China

He has made several excursions to China to photograph that country’s industrial emergence, and construction of one of the world’s largest engineering projects, the Three Gorges Dam.

Burtynsky discussing his work made in China

Other work

Wikipedia

Burtynsky was born in St. Catharines, Ontario. His parents had immigrated to Canada in 1951 from Ukraine and his father found work on the production line at the local General Motors plant. Burtynsky recalls playing by theWelland Canal and watching ships pass through the locks. When he was 11, his father purchased a darkroom, including cameras and instruction manuals, from a widow whose late husband practiced amateur photography.With his father, Burtynsky learned how to make black-and-white photographic prints and together with his older sister established a small business taking portraits at the local Ukrainian center. In the early ’70s, Burtynsky found work in printing and he started night classes in photography, later enrolling at the Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.

From the mid-1970s to early 1980s, Burtynsky formally studied graphic arts and photography. He obtained a diploma in graphic arts from Niagara College in Welland, Ontario, in 1976, and a BAA in Photographic Arts (Media Studies Program) from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in Toronto, Ontario, in 1982.

His early influences include Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Eadweard Muybridge, and Carleton Watkins, whose prints he saw at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the early 1980s. Another group whose body of work shares similar themes and photographic approaches to Burtynsky’s work are the photographers who were involved in the exhibition New Topographics.

 

Photographic series

  • 1983 – 1985 Breaking Ground: Mines, Railcuts and Homesteads, Canada, USA
  • 1991 – 1992 Vermont Quarries, USA
  • 1997 – 1999 Urban Mines: Metal Recycling, Canada Tire Piles, USA
  • 1993 – Carrara Quarries, Italy
  • 1995 – 1996 Tailings, Canada
  • 1999 – 2010 Oil Canada, China, Azerbaijan, USA
  • 2000 – Makrana Quarries, India
  • 2000 – 2001 Shipbreaking, Bangladesh
  • 2004 – 2006 China
  • 2006 – Iberia Quarries, Portugal
  • 2007 – Australian Mines, Western Australia
  • 2009 – 2013 Water Canada, USA, Mexico, Europe, Asia, Iceland, India

Video: Manufactured Landscapes

In 2006, Burtynsky was the subject of the documentary film, Manufactured Landscapes, that was shown at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival in the World Cinema Documentary Competition.

Video: Watermark

Burtynsky and Jennifer Baichwal, who was his director on the 2006 documentary Manufactured Landscapes, are co-directors of the 2013 documentary film, Watermark. The film is part of his five-year project Water focusing on the way water is used and managed.

 

Technique

Most of Burtynsky’s exhibited photography (pre 2007) was taken with a large format field camera on large 4×5-inch sheet film and developed into high-resolution, large-dimension prints of various sizes and editions ranging from 18 x 22 inches to 60 x 80 inches. He often positions himself at high-vantage points over the landscape using elevated platforms, the natural topography, and more currently helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. Burtynsky describes the act of taking a photograph in terms of “The Contemplated Moment”, evoking and in contrast to, “The Decisive Moment” of Henri Cartier-Bresson. In 2007 he began using a high-resolution digital camera.

The Long Now Foundation

In July 2008 Burtynsky delivered a seminar for the Long Now Foundation entitled “The 10,000 year Gallery”. The foundation promotes very long-term thinking and is managing various projects including the Clock of the Long Now, which is a clock designed to run for 10,000 years. Burtynsky was invited by clock designer Danny Hillis to contribute to the Long Now project, and Burtynsky proposed a gallery to accompany the clock. In his seminar, he suggested that a gallery of photographs which captured the essence of their time, like the cave paintings at Lascaux, could be curated annually and then taken down and stored. He outlined his research into a carbon-transfer process for printing photographs that would use inert stone pigments suspended in a hardened gelatine colloid and printed onto thick watercolour paper. He believes that these photographs would persist over the 10,000 year time-frame when stored away from moisture.

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto

website

Google images

from Wikipedia:

Sugimoto has spoken of his work as an expression of ‘time exposed’, or photographs serving as a time capsule for a series of events in time. His work also focuses on transience of life, and the conflict between life and death. Sugimoto is also deeply influenced by the writings and works of Marcel Duchamp, as well as the Dadaist and Surrealist movements as a whole. He has also expressed a great deal of interest in late 20th century modern architecture.

His use of an 8×10 large-format camera and extremely long exposures have given Sugimoto a reputation as a photographer of the highest technical ability. He is equally acclaimed for the conceptual and philosophical aspects of his work.

Exerpts from his description of selected works from his website:

Joe:  Like a work of architecture, this sculpture has to be experienced by walking around and through it… Joe is different according to the time of the day, the season, and the viewer’s position. It is in the visitor’s memory that the sculpture “takes shape” in the most complete way…Using a photographic technique involving areas of extremely soft light and blurred darkness, he sculpted views that seem like aspects of visual memory: the arts of photography and sculpture overlap and memories of the two-and the three-dimensional mix.

Revolution: For a long time it was my job to stand on cliffs and gaze at the sea, the horizon where it touches the sky. The horizon is not a straight line, but a segment of a great arc. One day, standing atop a lone island peak in a remote sea, the horizon encompassing my entire field of vision, for a moment I was floating in the centre of a vast basin. But then, as I viewed the horizon encircle me, I had a distinct sensation of the earth as a watery globe, a clear vision of the horizon not as an endless expanse but the edge of an oceanic sphere…There remains… a great divide between comprehending (i.e.explaining) the world and being able to explain what we ourselves are. And even then, what we can explain of the world is far less than what we cannot ― though people tend be more attracted by the unexplained. In all this, I somehow feel we are nearing an era when religion and art will once again cast doubts upon science, or else an era when things better seen through to a scientific conclusion will bow to religious judgement.

Seascapes:  Water and air. So very commonplace are these substances, they hardly attract attention―and yet they vouchsafe our very existence…Let’s just say that there happened to be a planet with water and air in our solar system, and moreover at precisely the right distance from the sun for the temperatures required to coax forth life. While hardly inconceivable that at least one such planet should exist in the vast reaches of universe, we search in vain for another similar example. Mystery of mysteries, water and air are right there before us in the sea. Every time I view the sea, I feel a calming sense of security, as if visiting my ancestral home; I embark on a voyage of seeing.

Lightning sheets: The idea of observing the effects of electrical discharges on photographic dry plates reflects my desire to re-create the major discoveries of these scientific pioneers in the darkroom and verify them with my own eyes.

Architecture: I decided to trace the beginnings of our age via architecture. Pushing my old large-format camera’s focal length out to twice-infinity―with no stops on the bellows rail, the view through the lens was an utter blur―I discovered that superlative architecture survives, however dissolved, the onslaught of blurred photography. Thus I began erosion-testing architecture for durability, completely melting away many of the buildings in the process.

Chamber of Horrors: People in olden times were apparently less fearful and grievous of death than we are today. To some it was even an honor to be chosen by the gods as a sacrificial victim, a liberation from the sufferings and strife of this life…Must we moderns be so sheltered from death?

David Hockney

website: http://www.hockneypictures.com  – NB strict copyright

Biography timeline

Google images

Hockney is particularly interested in the process of seeing.

David Hockney, OM CH RA (born 9 July 1937) is an English painter, draughtsman, printmaker, stage designer and photographer. Born with synesthesia, he sees synesthetic colours in response to musical stimuli. This does not show up in his painting or photography artwork, but is a common underlying principle in his designs for stage sets for ballet and opera—where he bases background colours and lighting on the colours he sees while listening to the piece’s music.

Hockney was born in Bradford, England, on 9 July 1937 to Laura and Kenneth Hockney (a conscientious objector in the Second World War), the fourth of five children. He was educated at Wellington Primary School, Bradford Grammar School. Between 1953 and 1957 he studied at Bradford School of Art, then  the Royal College of Art in London, where he met R. B. Kitaj. While there, Hockney said he felt at home and took pride in his work.

1960s Pop Art

At the Royal College of Art, Hockney featured in the exhibition Young Contemporaries—alongside Peter Blake—that announced the arrival of British Pop art. He was associated with the movement, but his early works display expressionist elements, similar to some works by Francis Bacon. He often sought ways of reintegrating a personal subject-matter into his art. He began tentatively by copying fragments of poems on to his paintings, encouraging a close scrutiny of the surface and creating a specific identity for the painted marks through the alliance of word and image. These cryptic messages soon gave way to open declarations in a series of paintings produced in 1960–61 on the theme of homosexual love.

When the RCA said it would not let him graduate in 1962, Hockney drew the sketch The Diploma in protest. He had refused to write an essay required for the final examination, saying he should be assessed solely on his artworks. Recognising his talent and growing reputation, the RCA changed its regulations and awarded the diploma.

Painting

A visit to California in 1963 inspired him to make a series of paintings of swimming pools. It is clear that when he moved to that city it was, at least in part, in search of the fantasy that he had formed of a sensual and uninhibited life of athletic young men, swimming pools, palm trees and perpetual sunshine. Hockney changed from oil to acrylic paints, applying them as a smooth surface of flat and brilliant colour that helped to emphasise the pre-eminence of the image. By the end of the decade Hockney’s anxieties about appearing modern had abated to the extent that he was able to pare away the devices and to allow his naturalistic rendering of the world to speak for itself.

Hockney returned more frequently to Yorkshire in the 1990s, usually every three months, to visit his mother who died in 1999. He rarely stayed for more than two weeks until 1997, when his friend Jonathan Silver who was terminally ill encouraged him to capture the local surroundings. He did this at first with paintings based on memory, some from his boyhood. Hockney returned to Yorkshire for longer and longer stays, and by 2005 was painting the countryside en plein air. He set up residence and an immense redbrick seaside studio, a converted industrial workspace, in the seaside town of Bridlington, about 75 miles from where he was born. The oil paintings he produced after 2005 were influenced by his intensive studies in watercolour (for over a year in 2003–2004). He created paintings made of multiple smaller canvases—nine, 15 or more—placed together. To help him visualize work at that scale, he used digital photographic reproductions; each day’s work was photographed, and Hockney generally took a photographic print home.

In June 2007, Hockney’s largest painting, Bigger Trees Near Warter, which measures 15 feet by 40 feet, was hung in the Royal Academy’s largest gallery in its annual Summer Exhibition. This work “is a monumental-scale view of a coppice in Hockney’s native Yorkshire, between Bridlington and York. It was painted on 50 individual canvases, mostly working in situ, over five weeks last winter.” In 2008, he donated it to the Tate Gallery in London, saying: “I thought if I’m going to give something to the Tate I want to give them something really good. It’s going to be here for a while. I don’t want to give things I’m not too proud of … I thought this was a good painting because it’s of England … it seems like a good thing to do.”

Hockney was commissioned to design the cover and pages for the December 1985 issue of the French edition of Vogue. Consistent with his interest in cubism and admiration for Pablo Picasso, Hockney chose to paint Celia Birtwell (who appears in several of his works) from different views, as if the eye had scanned her face diagonally.

The “joiners” : photocollages

Photographs do not see space. We see space. Without vanishing points

In the early 1980s, Hockney began to produce photo collages, which he called “joiners”, first using Polaroid prints and subsequently 35mm, commercially-processed color prints. Using Polaroid snaps or photolab-prints of a single subject, Hockney arranged a patchwork to make a composite image. An early photomontage was of his mother. Because the photographs are taken from different perspectives and at slightly different times, the result is work that has an affinity with Cubism, one of Hockney’s major aims—discussing the way human vision works. Some pieces are landscapes, such as Pearblossom Highway #2, others portraits, such as Kasmin 1982, and My Mother, Bolton Abbey, 1982.

Creation of the “joiners” occurred accidentally. He noticed in the late sixties that photographers were using cameras with wide-angle lenses. He did not like these photographs because they looked somewhat distorted. While working on a painting of a living room and terrace in Los Angeles, he took Polaroid shots of the living room and glued them together, not intending for them to be a composition on their own. On looking at the final composition, he realized it created a narrative, as if the viewer moved through the room. He began to work more with photography after this discovery and stopped painting for a while to exclusively pursue this new technique. Frustrated with the limitations of photography and its ‘one eyed’ approach, however, he returned to painting.

Computer art

In December 1985, Hockney used the Quantel Paintbox, a computer program that allowed the artist to sketch directly onto the screen. Using the program was similar to drawing on the PET film for prints, with which he had much experience. The resulting work was featured in a BBC series that profiled a number of artists.

Since 2009, Hockney has painted hundreds of portraits, still lifes and landscapes using the Brushes iPhone and iPad application, often sending them to his friends. His show Fleurs fraîches (Fresh flowers) was held at La Fondation Pierre Bergé in Paris. A Fresh-Flowers exhibit opened in 2011 at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, featuring more than 100 of his drawings on 25 iPads and 20 iPods. In late 2011, Hockney revisited California to paint Yosemite National Park on his iPad. For the season 2012–2013 in the Vienna State Opera he designed, on his iPad, a large scale picture (176 sqm) as part of the exhibition series Safety Curtain, conceived by museum in progress.

Google images for iPad art

 

iphone drawings

 Portraits

Hockney painted portraits at different periods in his career. From 1968, and for the next few years he painted friends, lovers, and relatives just under lifesize and in pictures that depicted good likenesses of his subjects. Hockney’s own presence is often implied, since the lines of perspective converge to suggest the artist’s point of view. Hockney has repeatedly returned to the same subjects – his parents, artist Mo McDermott (Mo McDermott, 1976), various writers he has known, fashion designers Celia Birtwell and Ossie Clark (Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy, 1970–71), curator Henry Geldzahler, art dealer Nicholas Wilder,[15] George Lawson and his ballet dancer lover, Wayne Sleep.

Hockney is openly gay, and unlike Andy Warhol, whom he befriended, he openly explored the nature of gay love in his portraiture. Sometimes, as in We Two Boys Together Clinging(1961), named after a poem by Walt Whitman, the works refer to his love for men. Already in 1963, he painted two men together in the painting Domestic Scene, Los Angeles, one showering while the other washes his back. In summer 1966, while teaching at UCLA he met Peter Schlesinger, an art student who posed for paintings and drawings.

David Hockney’s portraits in crayon, ink, water colour and paint show an amazing sensitivity in treatment and line.

Google images of David Hockney portraits

In October 2006 National Portrait Gallery in London organized one of the largest ever displays of Hockney’s portraiture work, including 150 paintings, drawings, prints, sketchbooks, and photocollages from over five decades. The collection ranged from his earliest self-portraits to work he completed in 2005. Hockney assisted in displaying the works and the exhibition, which ran until January 2007, was one of the gallery’s most successful.

See article on 2006 exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery by Janet McKenzie

A Bigger Picture exhibition

From 21 January 2012 to 9 April 2012, the Royal Academy presented A Bigger Picture, which included more than 150 works, many of which take entire walls in the gallery’s brightly lit rooms. The exhibition is dedicated to landscapes, especially trees and tree tunnels. Works include oil paintings and watercolours inspired by his native Yorkshire. Around 50 drawings were created on an iPad and printed on paper. Hockney said, in a 2012 interview, “It’s about big things. You can make paintings bigger. We’re also making photographs bigger, videos bigger, all to do with drawing.” The exhibition moved to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain from 15 May to 30 September, and from there to the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, Germany, between 27 October 2012 and 3 February 2013.

Video of exhibition

Printmaker

Hockney produced many lithographs and etchings – mostly of a mischievous nature or portraits.
In 1965, the print workshop Gemini G.E.L. approached him to create a series of lithographs with a Los Angeles theme. Hockney responded by creating a ready-made art collection.
In 1976, at Atelier Crommelynck, Hockney created a portfolio of 20 etchings, The Blue Guitar: Etchings By David Hockney Who Was Inspired By Wallace Stevens Who Was Inspired By Pablo Picasso.  The etchings refer to themes in a poem by Wallace Stevens, “The Man With The Blue Guitar”. It was published by Petersburg Press in October 1977. That year, Petersburg also published a book, in which the images were accompanied by the poem’s text.

‘Hockney, Printmaker’, curated by Richard Lloyd, International Head of Prints at Christie’s, was the first major exhibition to focus on Hockney’s prolific career as a printmaker. The exhibition ran from 5 February 2014 to 11 May 2014 at Dulwich Picture Gallery before going on tour to The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle. It featured his series ‘The Rake’s Progress’ and ??.

Google images for printmaking

Review and video of Dulwich art gallery exhibition

Telegraph Review of Dulwich exhibition

Current

Hockney moved to Los Angeles in 1964, returned to London in 1968, and from 1973 to 1975 lived in Paris. He moved to Los Angeles in 1978, at first renting the canyon house he lived in and later bought the property and expanded it to include his studio. He also owned a 1,643-square-foot beach house at 21039 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, which he sold in 1999 for around $1.5 million.
He currently lives in Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire, and Kensington, London. Hockney maintains two residences in California, where he lived on and off for over 30 years: one in Nichols Canyon, Los Angeles, and an office and archives on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood.(from Tate website and Wikipedia)

Dave McKean

Dave McKean Art

Flash-based website

Book Slut interview

LOTS on You Tube

Dave McKean is one of my key sources of inspiration, for his techniques and also dramatic composition and narrative.

To further develop in detail with discussion of some of my favourite graphic novels

In the meantimt below is edited from Wikipedia

David McKean (born 29 December 1963) is an English illustrator, photographer, comic book artist, graphic designer, filmmaker and musician. His work incorporates drawing, painting, photography, collage, found objects, digital art and sculpture.

Comics

After a trip to New York City in 1986 during which he failed to find work as a comics artist, McKean met writer Neil Gaiman, and the pair collaborated on a short graphic novel of disturbing childhood memories, Violent Cases, published in 1987.  This was followed in 1988 by a Black Orchid miniseries and Hellblazer covers for DC Comics.

In 1989, he illustrated the Batman graphic novel, Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, with writer Grant Morrison. Comics historian Les Daniels observed that “Arkham Asylum was an unprecedented success, selling 182,166 copies in hardcover and another 85,047 in paperback…McKean produced 120 pages of paintings for Arkham Asylum, offering powerful visual reinterpretations of the classic characters.”From 1989–1997 McKean produced the covers for Gaiman’s celebrated series The Sandman, all its collected editions, and many of its spin-offs. In 1998, the cover images from The Sandman were released as one compiled volume titledDustcovers: The Collected Sandman Covers. 

Further collaborations with Gaiman produced the graphic novels Signal to Noise in 1992 previously serialised in The Face magazine, about a dying filmmaker and his hypothetical last film; and The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch, which explored similar themes as Violent Cases through the imagery of the Punch and Judy show. In 1995 McKean wrote and illustrated a book for The Rolling Stones called Voodoo Lounge to tie-in with the release of their album of the same name.

Between 1990 and 1996 McKean wrote and drew the ten issues of Cages, an ambitious graphic novel about artists and creativity, illustrated in a stripped-down pen-and-ink style influenced byAlberto Breccia, José Antonio Muñoz and Lorenzo Mattotti.[12] Cages was published as single volume by Kitchen Sink Press in 1998, and in a new edition by NBM Publishing in 2002. In 2010, Cages was released by Dark Horse Comics in paperback.[6]

Illustration

Mckean designed the posters for the Raindance Film Festival for five years from 1996-2000. In 1997 he wrote, directed and edited a ninety-second trailer for the festival. In 2005, McKean designed the poster for the 32nd Telluride Film Festival. In 2006, he designed projections, sets and directed film clips for the Broadway musical Lestat, adapted from Anne Rice’s novels, with music and lyrics by Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

McKean has created a few books documenting his travels using only illustrations. Examples include Postcards from Vienna, Postcards from Barcelona, Postcards from Paris (2008), andPostcards from Brussels (2009). He wrote another book of 200 pages called Squink (éditions BdArtist(e)) that gathered a number of drawings in 15 chapters.

CD covers

Book covers

Books of photography

He has published four books of photography:

  • A Small Book of Black and White Lies (1995)
  • Option: Click (1998)
  • The Particle Tarot: The Major Arcana
  • The Particle Tarot: The Minor Arcana

Collected Short Stories

  • Pictures that Tick – Volume 1 (2001).
  • Pictures that Tick – Volume 2 (2014).

Work with John Cale

McKean designed and illustrated John Cale’s autobiography What’s Welsh for Zen, a further biography called Sedition and Alchemy, a box set of cd’s called Circus Live, and used John’s Welsh-by-way-of-New York voice as the narrator for his short film N[eon].

Children’s picture books

McKean has collaborated with Neil Gaiman on three children’s picture books, The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish (1998), The Wolves in the Walls (2003) and Crazy Hair (2009), and illustrated Gaiman’s children’s novels Coraline (2002) and The Graveyard Book (2008), as well as S. F. Said‘s Varjak Paw (2003). The Wolves in the Walls: a Musical Pandemonium premiered as a play in Glasgow in 2006 with Improbable and the National Theatre of Scotland. The National Theatre of Scotland adapted The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish into a promenade performance for young people in 2013. He illustrated David Almond‘s The Savage published in April 2008, and Slog’s Dad published in September 2010. In 2011, McKean collaborated with Richard Dawkins on The Magic of Reality, a science book for children.

The Fat Duck Cookbook

In 2008, McKean collaborated with Heston Blumenthal on The Fat Duck Cookbook, an autobiography, compilation of key recipes and insight into Blumenthal’s scientific method. The book was nominated in the James Beard Foundation Awards for Cooking from a Professional Point of View and won the Photography/Illustration award.

Stamps

McKean created six images for the Royal Mail‘s Mythical Creatures collection, which featured depictions of mythical creatures found in British folklore, including dragons, unicorns, giants, pixies, mermaids, and fairies. The collection was released in the UK on 16 June 2009. The Presentation Pack contains short descriptions of each subject by author Neil Gaiman.

Films

MirrorMask, McKean’s first feature film as director, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2005. The screenplay was written by Neil Gaiman, from a story by Gaiman and McKean. A children’s fantasy which combines live action and digital animation, MirrorMask was produced by Jim Henson Studios and stars a British cast Stephanie Leonidas, Jason Barry, Rob Brydon, and Gina McKee. Before MirrorMask, McKean directed a number of television intros and music videos as well as several short films, such as The Week Before (1998) and N[eon] (2002),[17] which are included in the compilation DVD of McKean’s work Keanoshow from Allen Spiegel Fine Arts. McKean has directed The Gospel of Us, a film of the National Theatre Wales‘s Passion play in Port Talbot which stars Michael Sheen.[18] A new feature film, Luna, written and directed by McKean and starring Stephanie Leonidas, Ben Daniels, Dervla Kirwan and Michael Maloney debuted at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2014.

McKean was a concept artist on the TV mini-series Neverwhere (1996), which was created and co-written by Neil Gaiman, and the feature films Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005).

Jazz musician[edit]

McKean is an accomplished jazz pianist, and founded the record label Feral Records[19] with saxophonist Iain Ballamy.