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154 of 160 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A revolutionary view of European Art History.
This is a seismic publication. It will rock the art world right down to its foundations. Hockney blows the lid clean off the secret practices of the Old Masters. He shows, with stunning clarity, that conventional European art historians have simply never understood the central and defining importance of optics - the cameras (obscura and lucida), mirrors and lenses that...
Published on 14 Oct 2001 by mrevans.holywell@virgin.net

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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Has been thoroughly debunked.
I don't know why David Hockney came up with this theory, but it's been debunked quite well, I believe. (Most notably Scientific American December 2004.)

The other 1-star review talks about Hockney's lack of drawing skill, and I'm afraid I have to agree about that. Don't get me wrong, he's a great artist--I love his use of color especially. His artwork is very...
Published on 5 Feb 2011 by Felicity


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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written and handsomely illustrated, 28 Feb 2013
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Hockney does an excellent job of describing how artists from the Rennaisance to the advent of photography used lenses, mirros and (non-recording) cameras to make their paintings more realistic.
The illustrations are superb, and make a great contribution to the author's case.
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5.0 out of 5 stars the best book of all time on Art, 10 Feb 2013
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This is one of the best book that I have ever read on Art, Hockney is a brilliant, I could not put the book down. So many color paintings in the book. This is a must for all art lovers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing, 10 Dec 2012
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This is a great book in so many different ways. Helpful, informative, well written, very well presented. David Hockney's enthusiasm for this fascinating subject really shows and makes the reader keen to know more.
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5.0 out of 5 stars amazing stuff, 2 Feb 2012
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Jens Olesen (Copenhagen) - See all my reviews
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This book has changed my view of paintings I have known for many years. It is a genuine reading (and viewing) experience. Thank you David Hockney!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Books on Art, 29 Jan 2011
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K. C. (Surrey, UK) - See all my reviews
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I was so intrigued reading this book that it only took a couple of days to read and this was fast for me! The research into the techniques and the clues in the paintings (as to using mirrors or lenses) of the old masters was fascinating. I would have loved to have seen more of other aids, old and new, and then these compared to drawing from the heart (I prefer this to eyeballing as D.H. refers to) which, for some, would be too slow in comparison. It is a book of the methods of the old masters however and not todays, which is another book in itself.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Light Bulb Goes On As You Read This, 18 April 2007
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Happy Reader (Northern California) - See all my reviews
This is a fascinating book. David Hockney will point out an odd proportion in a painting (all paintings etc are nicely illustrated)and explain how this, in his opinion, resulted from use of the camera obscura. I will have seen the painting in illustrations before, and even noticed the odd proportion before, but never wondered why a consummate painter would make such a silly mistake - a woman's arm that would hang past her knees, for example. But you read this book and the Light Bulb goes on - EUREKA! - that's how he'd paint something this goofy! Now, I do want to say that Hockney's explanation is not appreciated by many in the "art" world. The most strident critics are speaking largely from ego. The most reasonable will point out that a portrait painter would usually paint only the face "in person". The rest was painted from memory, sketches and written descriptions and this could lead to mistakes. However, the abundance of examples Hockney brings to the table, and the historical evidence showing that a camera obscura could have been available to the painters, leads me to side with David Hockney. This is a great read.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars secret knowlege:rediscovering the lost techniques of the old masters, 2 Feb 2009
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D. J. Warren - See all my reviews
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An informative and well structured book with some interesting theories about the secret methods used historically to ease the process of drawing complex scenes or objects. Especially interesting are Hockney's own attempts to reproduce these methods, which must seem an anathema to a modern artist; you have to bear in mind that many old masters were running effectively a business and were open to any new technique that would make painting a more efficient process.
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Has been thoroughly debunked., 5 Feb 2011
I don't know why David Hockney came up with this theory, but it's been debunked quite well, I believe. (Most notably Scientific American December 2004.)

The other 1-star review talks about Hockney's lack of drawing skill, and I'm afraid I have to agree about that. Don't get me wrong, he's a great artist--I love his use of color especially. His artwork is very enjoyable, but I thought it was obvious that drawing was not the focus of his work. Yet he is suggesting that some of the accuracy in these paintings could not be done without optical aids? Who is he to say what could NOT be done by people who clearly had much stronger drawing skills than him?

No one is saying that the Old Masters never used optics, but there is great doubt cast on them using optics for the reasons (and in the manner) that Hockney describes.

Read the Scientific American article for a detailed scientific explanation of the flaws in Hockney's theories, or do a Google search starting with David G Stork (he's the man who wrote the Scientific American article). He's not the only one debunking this theory, either.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars secret knowlegerediscovering the lost techniques of the old masters, 27 Aug 2010
this book is delightfull. the colured photographs are inspiring. David hockney writes with agreat fluidity, insimple terms niether highbrow or lowbrow. David Hockney has inpressed me .i now see him in quite a diferent light. Iwill now look for another of his books,perhaps in a simaler vane. Angharad Dishman.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, 12 May 2010
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Mr. J. Bloomfield (UK Manchester) - See all my reviews
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This is a great book, with loads of fantastic colour plates , straight forward reading and gets the point accross. I'd always put a lot of the classical artists on a pedastal but realising how much they relied on optics makes me more confident in my own work!
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