Opera & Landscape (David Hockney)

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A musical painter or a painter of music, David Hockney painted landscapes and operatic sets –and they are glorious. The first painting that I have posted above is a view on a drive on the hilly Pacific Highway with Los Angeles in the close distance. The second is one of the so-called V.N. paintings, which relate to the artist’s interest in opera. Exhibited in the same gallery at the Hockney retrospective at the Met, they convey at different scale the same spatial dynamism of giddy, colorful motion and the intensification of speed and sound. These are very different from the geometric angularity that shape the swimming pools, municipal buildings, and social relations in the paintings meant to capture Beverley Hill. In particular, the landscape that I’m posting here depicts drives that Hockney carefully organized for friends through the hills, synchronized with works by Wagner. With the city grid there in the back, each swerve up close on the hilly road, surrounded by saturated color, was timed deliberately to coincide with just that dramatic operatic hight point. The carefully arranged bright segments of the landscape undulate. The N.V. paintings suggest that the scenes out in the country are mental landscapes.  What unites them all is what, a sense of home?

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About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish though and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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