Widely loved British painter and FOW (friend of Warhol) David Hockney, who splits his time between London, his native Yorkshire, and Los Angeles, took quickly to the medium of the iPad. In what some are calling a "gimmicky" move, he's now exhibiting 150 "iPad paintings" at the DeYoung Museum.
The exhibit, which the DeYoung says is its largest ever, occupies two floors of the museum and includes a total of 400 Hockney works, 78 of which he's made in the last year. It's a survey of the artist's work from 1999 to the present, and it opened on Saturday. Among the iPad paintings, some of which are displayed, as they were created, on digital tablets, are a group that have been printed via large-format ink-jet printers onto paper, the most striking of which are a 12-foot high series of landscapes of Yosemite. Other paintings created on the iPad were transferred onto multiple canvases and done over in oils.
The 76-year-old, openly gay Hockney was among the early adopters of the iPad, ordering one of the first of the devices to be shipped to his home in England, where he began creating works on his iPhone about five years ago. He uses just his thumb and an app called Brushes. At the time Hockney joked, "People from the village come up and tease me: 'We hear you've started drawing on your telephone.' And I tell them, 'Well, no, actually, it's just that occasionally I speak on my sketch pad.'"
Hockney says that taking the iPad somewhere like Yosemite to sketch is far easier than having to carry a sketch pad and pens, or a box of paints. And yes, it's basically finger painting, which Hockney likens to the earliest painterly art form: cave painting.
One New York art historian, speaking to the AP, compares the shift to using such digital devices (not to mention computers), to the introduction of photography into fine art over a century ago. But another art historian, Maureen Nappi at Long Island University, says that while she appreciates Hockney opening others' minds to the medium, she calls his iPad works "gimmicky."
Go to the museum to see them for yourself. The exhibit runs through January 20.