David Hockney with his iphone on an easel.
A number of readers didn’t like the swipe I took at David Hockney’s iPhone paintings last week, Regina Hackett and Edward Winkleman amongst them. Their criticisms have merit — I probably didn’t need to call for the death of iPhone art as a medium — though I have yet to see anything done with the phone that even approaches good art (please prove me wrong). Based on the small amount I’ve seen, I’m also skeptical Hockney’s work will convince me otherwise.
Although I didn’t identify it well in the original post, my real issue lies with the Daily Mail’s story, which connects artistic merit with the hipness of digital technology. Let’s begin again with the second sentence in their ridiculously titled feature iHockney: Artist David Uses His Apple Phone to Paint Mini Masterpieces;
Now David Hockney has mastered the art of communication – by using his phone to paint pictures.
Hockney’s mere use of a product for artistic purposes constitutes a mastery of the art of communication? Daily Mail writer Beth Hale provides no further evidence to support her claim. A few sentences later we read the following,
Hockney has had the phone for only four months, but he has already turned it into a hi-tech canvas. It even fits neatly on a miniature easel in his London studio.
In other words, Hockney pioneers by finding an iPhone application in “only four months” that allows him to paint pictures for his friends. Not to state the obvious, but many of us with iPhones have unearthed that potential in a lot shorter time frame. Figuring out how to use an application is not in and of itself an act of artistic merit.
Following this point, while the iPhone easel may not suggest value, it does crudely label the paintings as art. Some debate has occured about whether the display method was so truly terrible/awesome to be worthy of this blog’s mention. I still believe it is. Sticking the phone on an easel asks people to think about art in a precribed way, and I don’t think that benefits anyone.