David Hockney’s show of new work, currently up at Pace in New York, is an explosively energetic exploration of reverse perspective. Hockney deploys hexagonal canvases, the lower ends notched out, so as to allow the eye to bend the picture far beyond the frame. As Hockney quips, “Far from cutting corners, I was adding them.” In Lawrence Weschler’s catalogue essay, Hockney suggests what he means by reverse perspective by way of an allusion to an experience he once had coursing through the arrow-straight eighteen-kilometer St. Gotthard Pass road tunnel, the tiny pinpoint of light ahead epitomizing “the hell of one-point perspective.” “I suddenly realized,” Hockney tells Weschler, “how that is the basis of all conventional photographic perspective, that endless regress to an infinitely distant point in the middle of the image, how everything is hurtling away from you and you yourself are not even in the picture at all. But then, as we got to the end of the tunnel everything suddenly reversed with the world opening out in every direction … and I realized how that, and not its opposite, was the effect I wanted to capture.”
In one of Hockney’s first experiments in his recent series, he took Fra Angelico’s San Marco fresco The Annunciation (a masterpiece of one-point perspective)—a poster of which used to grace the upper corridor of his elementary school—and turned it inside out, offering a sense of what it might have looked like in reverse perspective.
Weschler’s catalogue essay, from which we will be publishing two adapted excerpts this week and next, goes into further detail on the taproots and implications of Hockney’s current reverse-perspective passion. The first, below, involves an improbable recent mentor. —Nadja Spiegelman Read More