Panel Discussion: "Back Through the Looking Glass"

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David Hockney, Yosemite II, October 5th 2011. iPad drawing printed on 6 sheets of paper mounted on 6 sheets of Dibond. © 2013 David Hockney

Koret Auditorium

Between 1999 and 2001, David Hockney and several of his studio associates became increasingly convinced that the Old Masters—starting with Ingres, but wending back past Vermeer, Caravaggio, and Lotto, all the way to Van Eyck and Brunelleschi (around 1420)—had used optical devices of various sorts (camera lucida, camera obscura, lenses, and concave mirrors) as crucial aids in their depictions of physical reality. Those speculations culminated in Hockney’s sumptuously illustrated monograph Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters (2001, with a revised and expanded edition in 2006), a volume whose claims proved wildly controversial.

This evening we will consider the current status of and recent developments regarding Hockney’s controversial theory (first laid in detail in his 2001 volume Secret Knowledge). The principal speaker will be Hockney’s close collaborator Charles Falco (University of Arizona) with contributions from artist Lauren Bon and her team from the Optics Division of the Metabolic Studio, Tristan Duke and Richard Nielsen. With them will be their large scale panoramic pinhole liminal camera lodged in a twenty foot shipping container atop a flatbed truck which will be parked outside the de Young from 10–5 pm on Friday, November 22 and 10–5 pm on Saturday, November 23.

In this conversation, Lawrence Weschler, Charles Falco, Lauren Bon, Richard Nielsen, and others consider the current state of Hockney's theory, with a particular focus on recent developments.

This event is created by Lawrence Weschler, veteran of the New Yorker, author of True to Life: Twenty-Five Years of Conversations with David Hockney, and contributor to the exhibition catalogue for David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition.

Ticket Information

Tickets go on sale October 16.
$15 members; $20 non-members (does not include gallery admission)

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Contact Information

Gregory Stock

The Fine Arts Museums’ Cultural Encounters programs are made possible through the generous support of the Hearst Foundations and the Winifred Johnson Clive Foundation. Thanks to our media sponsor the San Francisco Bay Guardian.