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Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars

TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 24 January 2012
This is a sumptuous book, well deserving of its meteoric rise to best-seller status on the opening of the Royal Academy of Arts exhibition which it serves as the catalogue. The large, almost square format lends itself well to the several hundred full colour reproductions. Some works extend across two pages, but the problem so common with art books of key features being interrupted by, or even disappearing into, the page fold seems not to occur with Hockney. Or perhaps this is just very superior book design.

Like the exhibition, the book majors on Hockney's recent work centred on a relatively small patch of East Yorkshire. Without abandoning his Californian base, Hockney has spent much time in recent years in East Yorkshire, observing in particular the changing seasons as reflected in the lanes, trees and fields. Hugely prolific in several media, he returns time and again to the same single-track road - a one-time Roman road, apparently - the same tunnel of trees, and some open views across fields, tram-tracked in their season by outsize farm machinery. His painting style frequently echoes that of Van Gogh, and we are reminded that Van Gogh too produced large numbers of rustic pictures.

A photograph presented as the first of no less than seven splendid frontispieces seems to indicate that Hockney reproduces the physical features of his landscapes very much as in life. He changes perspective and colour tone, but trees, hedges and gaps in hedges remain very much as they are. The detail of some subjects is given closer attention on some of his visits than on others. There is a huge amount for us to observe, and this book makes it possible to do so at leisure, over as long a period as we wish.

Whilst the book majors on recent works made in East Yorkshire, significant space is given to earlier work in Yorkshire and elsewhere, including the renowned Grand Canyon series. Not quite amounting to a retrospective, this provides a liberal setting of context. Hockney also shares with us his 2010 series based on Claude Lorrain's 1656 painting, The Sermon on the Mount; something very different, although still outdoors. And towards the end of the book we have photographs taken by Hockney (with acknowledged assistance) with banks of nine and eighteen cameras - with words of explanation by Hockney on the genesis of that project and on why nine (or 18) cameras are better than one. He surmises that the new technology will enable new kinds of narrative, as the movie camera did ninety years ago. He has of course long been one to embrace new technologies as they arrive.

Essays by Hockney's fellow Yorkshire person, the novelist Margaret Drabble, three eminent curators, the author of the companion volume A Bigger Message: Conversations with David Hockney, and Tim Barringer, Professor of Art History at Yale University, complement the wealth of Hockney generated material. In all, this book puts many another best-seller in the shade. Hockney's preferred shade, we surmise, would be that of his beloved Woldgate as the trees there grow into their early summer splendour. In all its seasons, he has done Woldgate proud, and us too.
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on 5 November 2015
Beautifully produced tome, bursting with the colour and expression of one of our painting greats. What a wonderful keepsake.
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on 6 March 2017
Christmas present for Dad, beautiful coffee table books and wonderful Hockney artwork.
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on 23 February 2012
Excellent, large pictures so you can see the details and colours which is great for artists. Not been a fan of Hockneys` work in the past until I saw the TV programme about the artist working in the landscape that and the book has made me want to see the pictures in real life, if I can get into the London exhibition because it is so popular. Also bought the DVD and the book `A bigger Message,Conversations with David Hockney` Martin Gayford, because the price reduction from Amazon meant they were more affordable than buying from the RA.
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on 21 April 2013
Stunning book just couldn't put it down and have had to have it ripped out of my hands such was the compulsion to read it.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 28 February 2012
This exhibition at the Royal Academy is inspirational. It is huge in every way: lots of pictures, some massive, in lots of rooms. What really hits you is Hockney's use of colour. There are a couple of early landscapes of Yorkshire that are grey and dour. Then Hockney moves to Hollywood and catches colour. That is probably rather a simplistic way of putting it, but that is how it feels. There are some wonderful photomontages of the Grand Canyon that lead to an enormous painted version in scarlet, vermilion and crimson, not perhaps colours you would associate with the Grand Canyon but it works.

Stunning as the pictures of America are, it is the paintings of East Yorkshire that are the stars of the show. Again, his use of colour is amazing. The paintings are luminous, glowing, uplifting. Especially interesting are the fifty-one (derived from sketching using an app on his Ipad) of the changing seasons in, I think, Woldingham Woods. (He says that the Ipad was easy to use sitting in the car when it was cold.) He painted many of the pictures en plein air, where it would have been difficult to manage huge canvases, so, apart from using his Ipad, many of paintings have been put together using nine or more separate small canvases.

I was lucky enough to go and see the exhibition, but I know that many people will not be able to. This book is the next best thing. It features all the works in the exhibition with interesting articles on Hockney, his pictures and techniques used.

The quality of the reproductions is excellent, the paintings losing only a little of their depth and luminosity.

I should have liked to have spent more time at the exhibition - an hour or so a day for several weeks. Since that is not possible, I can study the paintings in this book instead. One misses the massive scale of the paintings, but one can't have everything and this is a pretty good substitute.
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on 1 August 2017
I bought A Bigger Picture at the same time as I saw the exhibition at the R.A. I bought it as a guide for the exhibition and then to have as a reminder when I returned home. I must admit I did not spend my time going around the exhibition checking each work on the wall with its illustration in the book to see how accurate the colour printing was. so cannot comment on those critics who complain that the colours are rubbish.
It is after all an illustrated exhibition guide, not a definitive illustrated guide to Hockneys' work. I imagine the time constraints to photograph all the works, compose the catalogue and then print it must have been very tight. I doubt there was the luxury of time to allow for microscopic attention to the colours. For me the colours are close enough. The catalogue can never be a substitute for the pictures. You cannot reproduce the effect that a painting which covers a whole wall gives, in a book illustration a foot square. As for the criticism that has been made that the series of watercolour sketches exhibited are all covered on just two pages, well, if a wall sized finished painting has to make do with an illustration a foot square you can hardly expect a series of watercolour sketches to be reproduced full size.
Nor should a review of the book be a platform to criticise the artist or his art. All art, whether painting, music, literature or whatever has a degree of subjectivity. Either it speaks to you or it doesn't. Because a work of art doesn't move you it does not necessarily mean it is bad art. I live close to the Wolds and travel across them often. The exhibition opened my eyes both to seeing new aspects of the Wolds and the difficulty of depicting how they affect you, what you feel rather than just what you see.
But in the end it is just an illustrated exhibition catalogue. By the prices being asked for it on Amazon I am assuming it is out of print and for that reason it is the price that it is. it may be worth that as an object of some rarity but that does not mean it needs to have a quality to match.
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on 4 March 2012
His paintings are absolutely beautifully reproduced and the text, though small is illuminating They do justice to the originals that I saw at the Royal Academy last week.
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VINE VOICEon 13 December 2012
Hockney's RA exhibition and this catalogue has received much praise that is well deserved: he is probably the greatest living artist of our time, comparable, in several ways, with Picasso in his era. However, I am reminded of a comment by Braque commending Picasso for his innovation, but saying that he was no painter. In some ways, this might be an epithet applicable to Hockney in relation to these Yorkshire works. Certainly, there is innovation, but few would happily grace the walls of the sitting room. In part, this is because so many of the works are experiments and working statements in paint that result in the far fewer works that are of immense scale. It is the sheer scale of some of the works in which the true beauty of Hockney's painting resides; he has done for Yorkshire what he had previously done for the Hollywood hills. A key picture is the Sermon on the Mount, by Claude Lorraine in which Hockney attempts to approach and make his own in much the same way as Picasso wrestled with Velazquez: the finished picture, a vast array of 30 canvases is a thing to wonder at and enjoy. But all of the best paintings are of great scale; smaller test pieces, experiments and such like have little of the detail and finish you might expect as Hockney uses his broad strokes on canvas, paper and iPad,while reaching towards his monumental goals. The drawings, as ever are excellent and the smaller works and sketchbooks are interesting, but it is the large works that impress. The trouble with an exhibition and catalogue that is so inclusive is that the overall effect is diluted, which, I feel, is the case in this instance. Nevertheless, I am pleased to have purchased this book and enjoy much that is in it. No doubt, over time, I will find more to examine and to glean greater understanding of what these late work represent.
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on 27 February 2012
I usually regret not buying a hardback edition of an exhibition catalogue so this time I spoilt myself and I don't regret paying the extra.
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