on 15 November 2009
I'm not an art critic, I bought this DVD primarily because I originate from the Yorkshire Wolds and have been fascinated by David Hockneys paintings of my childhood stomping ground. What I did not expect to see was such an amazing insight into the life of a true living legend. I am still completely bowled over by Bruno Wollheims portrayal of this most unusual, enigmatic but above all passionate artist. Thanks to Bruno's dedication for sticking with what must have been an extemely trying assignment and to David Hockney for giving the public a rare opportunity to see him at work. I give the DVD top marks and quite frankly look forward to watching it again.
If anyone is interested in Hockeys pictures of Woldgate and the surrounding area of Bridlington, I highly recommend this book, which is written in both German and English. 'David Hockney - Just Nature' ISBN 978-3-89929-154-4
on 31 January 2010
`I was brought up in Bradford and Hollywood' David Hockney says at the beginning of the film, when `Hollywood was at the end of the street in the local cinema'. Quoting Billy Wilder, he says, laughing, `Scratch the tinsel in Hollywood and you'll find the real tinsel underneath'. Bruno Wollheim got to scratch Hockney's tinsel over three years `at the end of a glittering career as he searches for a grand finale'. Approaching his seventies, Hockney came home to paint the Yorkshire Wolds when Wollheim began making what turned into this remarkable film, an intimate portrayal that covers a lot of ground in an hour.
From boy wonder to grand old man, this might have been a tale told in pictures, Hockney's life, from A Bigger Splash to A Bigger Picture. That was Wollheim's original idea. However, he has ended up with something far more interesting and original, a film of an artist at work. `After running on empty for a time in California he's gone back to his roots to revitalise his art.' Wollheim follows the process, as Hockney paints, smokes, eats, drinks, strolls along the promenade at Bridlington, and splashes around in his Wellingtons at the end of a muddy lane, making marks on canvas. And we get to travel with him. We see something vary rare, the speed and order in which an artist makes those marks.
Edgy, unpredictable, and initially unfocused, the film documents not only a new departure for Hockney, `painting as an extreme sport, outside, on the spot, in all weathers', it builds towards `a bigger sensation', one 600 square foot image over 50 canvases that fill the largest wall in the Royal Academy - a very `Hollywood idea', as Nicholas Serota comments; `it's Cinerama, to lose yourself in the landscape and to lose yourself in the space'.
Pro-smoking, anti-jogging, firing off letters about school inspectors reporting against the value of drawing, complaining about mean-spirited, petty politicians, it would be easy to portray Hockney as a curmudgeonly grumpy old man; a national treasure but one who is getting on a bit. He is certainly aware of his own mortality. Whereas the truth of this film is that he is `on a roll', as creative as ever, an infectious spirit who `still feels he has something to discover'. He quotes Van Gogh: `he had lost the face of his father but he had found another in the infinity of nature'.
It may be a far cry from Hollywood but he has come home.
on 1 July 2010
Shown first on BBC1 on their 'Imagine' series, and irrespective of whether you saw it then or not, if you love Hockney's painting, this is definitely worth purchacing as a keepsake. I have laready watched it once and am sure will do so again in the years to come. You see a great painter, in the act of painting, back to the place where he started from, at ease, and full of enthusiasm again. I doubt another filmmaker will get the access that Bruno Wolheim had, and given that he spent 3 years filming Hockney, and although the DVD is 8 mins. longer than the version shown on TV, I am sure there will be scope for a longer version sometine in the future. Hockney is a painter who, both in his painting, and in conversation, teaches you to rub your tired eyes, and see the world around you afresh and to take delight in looking. Like Matisse, he understands there is endless pleasure to be had in colour and forms. This DVD is like meeting a sage who shows you 'the way'.
on 8 September 2011
Most people who went to Bradford Grammar School would normally only remember their class mates.
But there are many hundreds of people who can rightly claim to know David Hockney because they all went to that school during the same time he was there. I was one of them, the same age, but in a different class. Our claim is real because we all tuned in to him. (My perspective is slightly more acute than most, because I too have had a lifelong career as artist and teacher). We remember speech day when he received his art prize every year, his affirmation of the obvious charisma and talent already visible in his work in the art room and in the scraperboard illustrations he published each term in the school magazine.
What a pleasure it is for us to have Bruno Wollheim's film, which completes the great circle of time since then, and provides the proof of the pudding, of which we had all been given a glimpse of the recipe. David is our artist and he is back here on our patch.
Nowadays, David Hockney is not just Yorkshire's artist, but that of the nation, and more. Like the shaman who makes visible the dreams of the tribe by means of the magical practice of his gifts, so, here we have the master, seeing, feeling and recording on our behalf the spectacle and magnificence of our landscape and our universe. We think we know it, but David gives us so much more that we have not noticed. It is all there in the film.
David is out there doing the work, day in day out; being the artist, painting what he sees. Not content to just drift on into his twilight years doing the same, this guy dreams up the monumental challenge of filling the biggest wall at the Royal Academy with a picture of one of those great stands of beech trees we remember driving past on journeys across the Wolds towards the East Coast.
Not only does he pull it off, with the use of many state of the art technical aids, but he welcomes Bruno Wollheim to shadow the project for over three years with his camera and microphone. Through all weathers, they gathered a harvest, day by day, of David's pictures, of the fields, hills lanes trees and hedge rows, skies and light, accumulating the knowledge that would be applied when it came to the "big one". All the time the film takes us up close. We are within the range between the artist and his outstretched arm to the canvas.
We feel the uncertainty of the search, the hesitation, the challenge of changing light as the day progresses. We are protected from the lash of the rain, the numbing of fingers in the cold. But we are there.
Not long ago, the only access we had to an artist was through the pages of large Thames and Hudson editions, with their still reproductions. Now we have the animation of video, with its recording of "the moving eye" by the moving lens. I find it interesting to be conscious that there are three layers in this "film" of reality; the eyes of the painter, then, through the lens, that of the film maker, and finally our own watching them both. Each of us colours what is there to be seen.
This DVD is a comprehensive package. The "main attraction" covers the build up and the final project. Along the way David offers potent insights and gems of wisdom about art, and life and being alive, and even what might come next.
Of the four short films included in the package I very much liked "The Making of the Documentary", showing the relationship of the film maker and his subject, the person and environment. I was able to gather from it and the other shorts, David's uniqueness and private focus and dedication. In that sense, he is somewhere else, on a different plane. I most appreciate his zen like humility and down to earth genuineness that this cameraman makes visible.
The inclusion of the film maker's part in the relationship is important to bring the whole of our experience of film maker and artist into a unity. The satisfaction it gives may possibly have something to do with the current understanding that the experimenter/ observer is to be recognised as an integral part of the enquiry. That is what creates the bigger picture : Bruno's, and thereby, ours.
Buy this DVD. You will want to watch it again and again.
on 8 June 2010
I wish to thank Bruno Wollheim for the making of this insight into the life, thoughts and work of David Hockney. I have long admired David Hockney's work and found inspiration in the Yorkshire paintings before I saw the film. It was a joy to watch when I saw it for the first time when it was broadcast on television and I watched it many times from having recorded it. When the DVD became available I not only enjoyed it once again but found it more interesting than the TV programme. David Hockney has a very easy manner when he talks about his work which gives the viewer the chance to go on the journey with him. The film has been masterfully made and put together by Bruno who managed to capture the creative power which is displayed not only in the paintings by Hockney but also in the creative process which I found truly inspirational. The four extra features complement the main film wonderfully and add to the overall understanding of Hockney's work and the experince of this remarkable film. I never cease to be amazed by the brilliance of both film maker and artist. There is always something new to find each time I watch it. I would thoroughly recommend this DVD to lovers of art and the work of one of our most remarkable artists.
on 24 November 2009
This is a fantastic film which will appeal strongly to those who love David Hockney's work. It should not, however, be limited to his admirers. This film has a great deal to say about the man, and about the life of one of the world's greatest living artists. This thoughtful film is also absorbing, drawing the viewer into Hockney's world. It is probable that many, upon viewing this film, will want to re-view it again and again . Bruno Wollheim has managed to produce a wonderful film.
on 10 March 2015
This is a brilliant DVD.....even though Hockney had to drive away curiosity sometimes...to help create the observer in the narrator...in the end he needed to talk. The editor in the narrator obviously listened, and allowed the film to be about very many things. All very important...about dying and living, grieving and preparing ,about feeling empty, but full of memories about being alone and yearning for contact. Hockney talked and painted, his friends, colleagues and enemies commented. You will be left facing a kaleidoscope of things to look at and listen to.....dive in....the journey will not be wasted.
People who are not artists will need to understand the inner compulsion to externalise the emotions that painting, or sculpture or desire demand, implacably. This film reflects that driveness. No wonder Hockney gets impatient sometimes.
Hockney is keen to emphasise the moving focus principle of Chinese landscape.Consciously or unconsciously the films take him at his word, and the vertex of observation is allowed to shift creatively. Will you follow?
Preparing for letting go by returning to memories or the real landscapes in them instead? or together? How far back from the subject do you have to get to reduce the pain? or feel in control of scenes and feelings that might have overwhelmed a child. Or are overwhelming the man.
What childhood competition is replayed in the bigger (est) picture, how many echoes of other contests, over the years? Bigger than the camera ?“The Academy”?,than Serota? than Rembrandt? (what about Monet’s series,or Mondrian’s?)
No mind...the excitement in the colours “to cheer up a dying friend”, the freedom and speed of the watercolour sketches, the final focussing on one space, over the seasons and weathers are all captured, perhaps uniquely. That journey towards the end of his life... the art, Yorkshire. Perhaps that’s what Hockney wanted,after all.
on 15 May 2011
I first saw this film in the guise of an "Imagine" documentary on the BBC. It was about two old flames I'd lost contact with over the years, the work of David Hockney and the East Yorkshire landscape; a beautiful, uncelebrated part of our country. Whilst I was aware Hockney's family lived on the coast at Bridlington, I had no idea he lived and worked in the area and had done for years, enjoying a renaissance in his painting, from a studio in his deceased mothers house.
To record the process he invited film maker Bruno Wollheim to track him whilst he painted. Judging by the out takes this is a man with admirable patience, who it turns out, was more than equal to the joint tasks of capturing the spirit of the area and managing the temperamental artist. The best compliment I can pay both of them is that after 34 years living and working in London this wonderful film has caused me to scratch a long felt itch and move up to East Yorkshire with my family. The qualities of the landscape and the quality of the work which it inspired, have both been captured in a manner that I defy anyone lucky enough to own this DVD, not to be deeply affected by.
Brilliant, buy it.
on 5 January 2016
A beautiful intimate portrait of David Hockney, perhaps the best film so far on Hockney. I love the conversations between the filmmaker and Hockney on art and life as here is a close relationship not seen in other documentaries on this wonderful artist. Thank you. I loved it. I haven't looked at the extras on the DVD yet, waiting for a quiet evening!