Hockney in Normandy.jpeg

David Hockney in Normandy


David Hockney's Exhibition Statement

On La Grande Cour, Normandy at Pace

This work started as a reproduction of Bruegelʼs Tower of Babel. I had made it twelve feet high, so you had to look all over it. You looked down on the sea. You had to look up to see the top of the tower. It is full of different perspectives. I thought it was almost like a new painting.

I then left for Amsterdam, where I saw Rembrandt and van Gogh. Bruegel, Rembrandt and van Gogh all drew landscapes with great clarity, “extra crispy and clear,” a friend said.

I arrived in Normandy on March 2nd. The studio wouldnʼt be finished until about the end of the month, so I started drawing on a book I had bought in Amsterdam. It was a Japanese concertina book, and I started on March 4th and worked all around the house, finishing it on March 16th. So, I then began it again, this time bigger with more detail.

The work has no vanishing point, but unlike Chinese or Japanese art, it has a few shadows (under the cars) and a reflection in the pond. It is drawn in the Chinese way. It is not a window. I actually walked all around the house, why not?

I am sometimes amazed that European art historians do not know that shadows or reflections do not occur in Chinese or Japanese art, indeed, it is only Europeans that used them.

It took me 21 days to make the 24 drawings. All of my marks are visible, thousands of them. I was able to finish the drawing in my new high-tech studio. Being in the studio, with its straight lines, I then decided to draw our higgledy-piggledy house, also from the north, south, east and west.

My plan is to do The Arrival of Spring like the Bayeux Tapestry, i.e. you walk past it. The Bayeux Tapestry is a great work of art, made about 1100 (eleven hundred). It contains no shadows or reflections, so when did they start using them in Europe? This has long been a question of mine. It covers about four years of time, so it is made like a Chinese scroll. A window would be no use here.

The arrival of spring takes about six weeks in Normandy, so I intend to do it like a scroll. Itʼs a movie, but you do the moving.

—David Hockney, June 2019

  • Exhibitions — David Hockney's Exhibition Statement, Oct 15, 2019