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David Hockney Interview: Photoshop is Boring

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In this video David Hockney meditates on the concept of seeing. Of depicting spring, of Picasso's owl that thrills us, of Photoshop and of comparing seat belts and bondage. David Hockney was invited to the launch of Photoshop in Silicon Valley because of his interest in photography. Photoshop has made a lot of magazines look similar and more and more boring, he says. There is more owlness in Picasso's owl than in a stuffed owl because it is an account of a human being looking on an owl. Interviewed by Christian Lund, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2011. Camera: Martin Kogi Produced by: Martin Kogi and Christian Lund, 2012 Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art Supported by Nordea-fonden
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Text Comments (139)
william badovinac (1 month ago)
Very misleading title. Like painting photography requires thought and sensibility. Only few pursue much. Photoshop is not photography but filters that require patience and craftsmanship. Only the Photoshop market name and lazy artists make it seem boring.
John Dinsky (2 months ago)
He is nothing but a product of marketing.
ztog (2 months ago)
Hockney is a painters' painter.
Ian (3 months ago)
I agree with him 100%. I only use Lightroom as a tool which is all I need. Who’s the muppet that keeps walking in front of camera ?
MASTER BLASTER (5 months ago)
Film + software the best combo
Leigh Foulkes (6 months ago)
All of our art today is boring crap!! There is nothing more interesting than reality but for some reason, they like to stick us into fantasy. We all have to be perfect or we have to compete with technology and we lose the humanity and organic nature in the end.
Malcolm Browning (8 months ago)
You can do anything visually orientated with Photoshop, plus, Hockney has used photography in oh so many ways in his art.
Kurt Pedersen (8 months ago)
I like your tie pressure boys style tie and jacket I feel a magnetism to red wine and ambience can we shop for red wines I love David Hockney but you cannot tell anyone see
Kurt Pedersen (8 months ago)
I like your tie pressure boys style tie and jacket I feel a magnetism to red wine and ambience can we shop for red wines I love David Hockney but you cannot tell anyone see
Emperor Minilla (8 months ago)
In a way, he's got a point. I mean, just compare modern movie posters which use Photoshop to the movie posters of the early years of film which were actually hand drawn. The older posters ironically, don't seem as static and look as though they're full of energy.
Miro Pribanić (10 months ago)
love Hockney talking about pictures. He knows a thing or two about it, I guess ;-) Btw why was he never sirred?? Influential figure in British arts, is he not??
Norbert Stepien (11 months ago)
With all due respect, I disagree with Mr Hockney. I still photograph with film and use my darkroom regularly. In fact, film photography still being taught in colleges and is making a resurgence. Digital has taken over in commercial photography but not in fine art photography. Illford is still manufacturing film and chemicals.
innomind (11 months ago)
Photoshop was not launched in 1999.
jay 420 (1 year ago)
why am i here
Thorekk (1 year ago)
" a stale look"....that is so true. look at todays selfie generation, all stale, all the same, bunch of group thinking stale blobs.
Thorekk (1 year ago)
fuck silicon valley and the pretentious virgins making this place unlivable
Rick Fowler (1 year ago)
Horse and buggy thinking... He does not know how to use use Photoshop...David is boring
IrishBard (1 year ago)
I like this guy.
Susan B (1 year ago)
love his sense of humour
Steve Satterwhite (1 year ago)
Smart guy, good artist. He did not say Photoshop sucks.
Corvid (1 year ago)
He's essentially saying "photoshop is being used negatively, to excessively touch up images, homogenising them", which in the context he's speaking about it true! It's exactly the same as people criticising AutoTune in music, where it gets slapped on hip hop/R&B vocals almost as standard, which to a lot of people becomes really boring to listen to. It's a useful tool for the audio engineer working to a tight deadline, who has been given sub-standard vocals to work with... but it's the negative attitudes that come with it that start to annoy people. The idea that you don't have to be able to perform an excellent vocal take, you can just "fix it in the mix" does take something from the sound of the music. Equally, he'd think nothing of solving the technical problems of photography with photoshop, bringing out or adding in the colour that he feels is lacking, to artistically improve the image, not create a false sense of "everyone has unrealistically perfect skin", but to better represent what the human eye sees.
luan maia (2 years ago)
Globalization foi any tool males things "Boeing" because of so much people doing it
bloated utopia (2 years ago)
isn't he rad???
Geoff Bosco (2 years ago)
I'm dodging and burning a headshot as I listen to this, thinking, "He isn't wrong." >video's over >goes back to retouching his image
Philip Brook (2 years ago)
So funny, Hockney says e.g. photoshop "polishes photography" as though photoshop woke up one morning and got on with it. People do the work. They used to do the same work with airbrushes back in the day...
djangolad (2 years ago)
You mean east Yorkshire is more free than "the land of the free"!..How can that be?
Denny (2 years ago)
Seatbelt bondage huh? If you need me I'll be in my room googling...
zenabowli (2 years ago)
Inexperienced criticism is boring. If you can't do it don't knock it.  If Michelangelo was alive today... I'd wager that he go to work for Pixar, designing digital cityscapes and alien beings for 'Star Wars' movies; along way from the high minded MoMA bs trip.
EWKification (2 years ago)
He doesn't say "Photoshop is boring", he argues that what people are doing with it commercially is boring. And that's probably why did does Ipad paintings now.
uhuih hojhk (2 years ago)
lol that bondage bit
greyseal7 (2 years ago)
A wee bit daft is He.
greyseal7 (2 years ago)
My point is he is old and a bit daft.  I did not say he was NOT a great artist.  I especially commend his book "Secret Knowledge"
cherrio291 (2 years ago)
+greyseal7 Ye have to be daft to see things in a different and original way! Such is a great artist! Don't ye know!? So what was your point!?
buyaport (2 years ago)
Obviously this chap doesn't know what he is talking about. Even now, three years later, Kodak is producing fixer as do several other companies. (Well, I guess he means photographic fixer, even if he calls it fixative, which is what one uses for e.g. charcoal drawings and was never used for photographs.) Lots of people use "chemical" photography, and many of them use Photoshop. Even artists that draw with ink or pencils use Photoshop. -- To be fair, one doesn't have to be very intelligent to be an artist. Sometimes being intelligent prevents you from following projects with the single-mindedness, many artists, this one included, have. So one should take such interviews for what they are...
Luke Belecco (3 years ago)
Being able to use Photoshop doesn't make you a photographer. Moving pixels around a computer screen might be a skill in itself, but of course it isn't photography.
77777aol (1 month ago)
It's pixelography.
Roy Boy (3 years ago)
I agree with him about Photoshop but after he makes the statement he just praddles on aimlessly
7700Purplexity (2 years ago)
David Hockney's praddling contains the stuff of legends.
Roy St. C. Rossow (2 years ago)
+Roy Boy haha, lol yea i do agree ..i'm a studio artist and use photo reference and therefore photoshop for set up....but it is so important to draw.. to have a basis to be able to draw what you see.. photos are great for reference even bad photos are better because it forces you to use your imagination.. but draw draw, draw...do still life work just keep your eye trained..
Linda Rutter (3 years ago)
James Cowman you should be ashamed of yourself. Hockney's paintings are never dull and neither is he or what he attempts to do. You actually make no sense, you are the rambler! Hockney is an old man, part of the establishment and not scared to use new tools and new ways to create new expression - he really is a great artist. Please go out and paint more, please read a few of the books written about him or by him...I don't get how you dont get it?! Hockney's paintings make me re-study nature and I see things I hadn't noticed before. If you see work he produced on ipad and iphone, he captures a truth of the moment which is so difficult to do with more conventional tools/methods.
James Cowman (3 years ago)
Photoshop is nothing more than a tool like the camera. Neither the camera you buy or the software you use to produce your images, if you don't understand composition, and know how to capture a powerful image, will not save you. The biggest gap between photography and art, is the obsession with the tools used, and not enough on design. This video is dull as Hockney's art. Rambles on and ends up nowhere.....
TheDemethar (1 month ago)
Hockney is ok.
botchos (3 years ago)
He likes to professorize. Nice guy. There's nothing wrong with photoshop. And there is a lot of interest in drawing. People like to be negative----it's a control thing. "I'm smart, you're dumb" kind of thing.
James Roach (3 years ago)
"There is more owl-ness there than in the stuffed owl." An excellent metaphor about the difference between characterization and verisimilitude, as well as what consciousness of our own subjectivity has to do with objectivity; which is to say that they're the same thing. As for the stuffed owls out there who don't get that, and to which he also alludes with sly hilarity, I have long since despaired of trying to explain such matters to them: You can no more teach the delights of playing with hyperbole to someone who is insensitive to nuance than you can by magic endow a sunless work-horse with a sense of sensory frolic. A similar principle pertains to how Photoshop is most used in publishing, and to most of its users in publishing: These poor polishing machines, grinding away and employed at rates that wouldn't inspire dogs, much less people to aesthetic feats, may as well be detailing cars for all the difference they make to enhancing human perception of the human condition. So yes, maybe Photoshop is boring as a chisel or any other basic tool of art and industry, and no, he is not saying that anyone and everyone who uses it is also boring, anymore than Michelangelo was for using a chisel. He is only trying to put it in perspective, so as not to make too much of things and too little of persons. He may not be literary enough to put it clearly as that, but he's got the idea. Do you see it better now? I would extend the metaphor most strenuously to music, to which I am most devoted: You could take all the Strads of all the great concert violinists and put them into a set of dull-eared hands and what you'd get would be as dull as what you'd get putting fabulously rich digital music synthesis suites into the same hands. For the same reason, not everyone who takes to digital synthesis is a dullard, either as composer or executor, and there is much gorgeously expressive music that has been made using it during the last 40 yeas, a fact which no one 40 or older, and with an ear good enough to deserve the name of fine, and a will good enough to deserve the name of searching, and time and means ample enough for selection, can be unaware of in consequence of the comprehensive musical memory those lead to when combined. Of all the foolish consistencies that hobgoblin small minds, the one that most persistently plagues them is to make an either-or matter of something that is question of proportion and apt combination of parts, persons, uses, motives. Small minds only want to find a side in a battle to fight to no purpose, and so set out to set up either-or sides in order to draw an arbitrary line over which to argue. The last thing they ever do is talk at length about particular processes, and their general consequences, because if they did the unruly bad-strife to which all their thought processes tend and prefer would be obvious as what a brawl says about what brawlers like to do, which they will never admit, for the insight would be far to dark to bear, a grim index of fate. They belong on battlefields, in the stands at sporting events, drudging in the earthly purgatories of interminable feuds. Such is the measure, and kind , of their contentiousness. That is not the artist's way in our time or any other, though idiocy is to some degree mixed in everyone.
77777aol (1 month ago)
James Roach : I tip my cap to you and your writing ability and ignore the yapping dogs !
timeemotionstudies (3 years ago)
+James Roach "....for the insight would be far TOO dark to bear.."  Spelling dude.. jeez f*##$in' if you do that.. do it properly
Phil Huber (3 years ago)
+James Roach   WOW James.  You read Joyce too much and have become addicted to your own mental masturbation.  Sorry everyone is so below you.
Liberty Aragon (3 years ago)
What's his problem with photoshop?! He paints on his ipad lol...
Brent Taylor Art (3 years ago)
+Liberty Aragon as a novelty
Christine Wilson (3 years ago)
Photoshop is to photography as electronic, digital sound is to a learned musician.  True ART requires a human touch.
teamcrumb (3 years ago)
+Christine Wilson thats not what he's saying. a human touch can be done with any medium aka a human at the helm is a human touch. the trouble with photoshop is time is not present in the finished product. the working process does not exist just a 'finished image'. painting involves time and layers and working with the points that don't work openly as they help you resolve the finished yes. i don't know. but using terms like TRUE ART is not helpful. everything humans do is human.
Razzy1312 (3 years ago)
Photoshop isn't boring. You know what is? Paintings of pools and splashes.
teamcrumb (3 years ago)
+Razzy1312 no they were good paintings. listen he's allowed his bias as that's the medium he loves. if you love photoshop then love it long time. but Hockney is a painter. and now he's also an old man and a painter. if his commenst are slightly fuddy duddy don't let it worry you. he's a good man and a great painter.
Do You Even Blem? (3 years ago)
He is absolutely correct: it is the triumph of homogenised vacuity.
Kevin McLaughlin (3 years ago)
He didn't say Photoshop is boring. He said that it helps everything look the same. Everything now has to look totally polished and perfect. People aren't drawing anymore they are taking photos or simply using the real thing (i.e. an owl).
Ignacio Rial-Schies (3 years ago)
Some people will simply not get the meaning of what Hockney's saying because they are the very producers of the boredom he refers to. The need to come up with a simple title for an interview like this, multiplied by the clickbait factor, lead the video's publisher to pick that particular bite, naturally stripped out of its context. Hockney is simply pointing towards the evidence that the use of a highly standardized toolset (by a mostly exploited and creativelly crippled workforce, if I may add) for image making in the entertainment industry leads to a repetitive and, yes, very boring collection of works. Which is what we see on any magazine cover and every pop-up ad. He's not discussing the artistic use of photoshop which, I believe Hockney would agree, should be regarded on a case-by-case basis.
sunway1374 (2 years ago)
Yes, Hockney is just saying that many images/graphics now look the same and so are boring. Go on Flickr you would know what I mean, most of those what we now think are good photos look like they are taken by the same person.
jrodknowledge (3 years ago)
I think one of the main themes here is that there's a fine line between the artistic value in work done on photoshop vs. real chemical photographs.
Ian Cummins (3 years ago)
He knows exactly what hes talking about. I don't..
Robert Alexander (3 years ago)
Please wear your seatbelt, or at least don't be flippant about it. Saying that wearing a seatbelt isn't your cup of tea in the same way that bondage isn't your cup of tea is like saying that you want to risk your life in a car accident because you're not fond of missionary-style sex. It's nonsense and it's insulting to everyone who has lost friends or families in car accidents. You don't wear the seatbelt because you find it uncomfortable and you're choosing to be comfortable at the risk of shortening your life. Own up to your value choices in life. It's fine to value hedonistic comfort--you are entitled to your values--but be willing to admit that that is what you are doing.
77777aol (1 month ago)
Robert Alexander : They were down a country road, were they not, with ne'er a human being or wandering beast in sight. And the feds, going after the man and not the ball give him a ticket to pay for their truncheons and their pensions; and that's called making a living ? I don't believe for one second Mister Hockney means any disparagement to anybody who has lost a life, or a friend for that matter, to some reckless, feckless, irresponsible driver; seat belted or otherwise.
vannburen (3 years ago)
I love Hockneys voice AND paintings
EyeLean5280 (3 years ago)
I wish I could reply to Sonlogosis but alas, that opportunity is expired. I'll just say here he's absolutely wrong. I've been an artist for over thirty years and both paint and use Photoshop to a professional level. Both require thought and skill. The array of skills involved in oil and watercolor painting do take many more years and a lot more practice to acquire and master, that's true, because even oils are nowhere near as forgiving as digital art programs. However, Photoshop, Illustrator and the rest can't be picked up by anyone at all and used proficiently on the spot. It does take time and effort and in the end, talent matters. Talent shows. Photoshop in the hands of an artist verses a semi-motivated student looking to get what they thought would be an easy A yields a *very* different outcome. On the other hand, the Photoshop defenders here dissing Hockney's work are also wrong. His paintings and collages have a place in the history of our cultural development for a reason. His work may or may not be their cup of tea, but it's going to stay in the history books for the foreseeable future, whether they like it or not.
Dan Ray (3 years ago)
if a person can paint , the tooling makes no nevermind...Hockney is a thinker like a trained dog....empty fluff.
Ivo Westerlaken (3 years ago)
David says that magazines look boring, because Photoshop polishes photography and images look stale, not that Photoshop is boring. Photoshop is a tool, a means to an end.
Leigh Foulkes (6 months ago)
Its cheating and not just with the art of taking a photo but in making things look perfect (like a human figure).
Louis Browne (3 years ago)
Your, close, but his comments are directed at a trend and process that most if not all magazines employ to glamour up a person and remove imperfections, freckles, highlights etc...not Photoshop it'self. I believe the misleading Title is a ploy to get people to listen... Not sure it's having the desire effect, Even as wrong as it is from what he actually says, it's certainly not any good for Davids rep.
katharine Anderson (3 years ago)
sunlogosis (3 years ago)
haha wow! i see a lot of hurt feelings in this comment thread. you thought you could point and click and be an artist as easy as that? not likely. anyone and i mean ANYONE can point and click. whether its a camera or a computer. but it takes a real artist to use a camera for making unique art.( in my opinion hardly any photography is worthy of being called art). most of you are probably making stuff thats been done over and over and still somehow think youre being original. youre not. i think photoshop is a joke and allows people the fantasy of being an artist without actually doing any of the work a real artist does. i dont think a computer program has any business calling itself an art tool. its for instant gratification, give me a participation trophy, lazy wannabes. in my opinion. its also my opinion that the people crying in this thread know this and are stunned that their magnificence is called into question. its called into question because youve done none of the work, you wouldnt know where to start. Photoshop does it all for you. you literally do none of the thinking. if you had to draw the picture you couldnt. thats why youre Photoshop shit is called into question. anyone can do it. anyone!
Akib H (1 year ago)
sunlogosis anyways David hockney was referring to how photoshop you can remove blemishes making every magazine look the same and that's boring
Akib H (1 year ago)
sunlogosis anyone can do what?
jpwallace100 (4 years ago)
He made a lot of good points about photoshop. And he pretty funny at the end.
Mark Colman (4 years ago)
It's like saying paint brushes are boring, a hammer is boring. It's just a tool. Why does that threaten him? This guy is over-rated x10,000.
pegasusgalaxy68 (8 months ago)
Photos is over shopped by photoshop and you loose the real picture....your not an artist of any kind are you! If you were you would get his meaning. Nob!
Daniel Johnson (1 year ago)
Mark Colman I find photoshop boring too. I do traditional art.
Sebastian Wendel (3 years ago)
+Mark Pettigrew I love many paintings of Hockney - for example "A bigger splash" for me is a masterpiece :-)
Mark Pettigrew (3 years ago)
+Mark Colman I agree. A tool is just a tool. It's the person who uses that tool who makes the difference between mediocrity and excellence. I do value Hockney for his observations about the ridiculous idea that it's somehow "cheating" when painters use photos as aids towards the goal of creating realistic paintings. He's written about Vermeer in order to demonstrate that that painter's realism could not have been achieved without using the forerunners of the modern camera --- the camera obscura or camera lucida. As an art historian, Hockney has something valuable to offer. However, I'm not very impressed with Hockney's paintings, which look rather unfinished to my eyes. I prefer people like pastel painter Daniel Greene, who spoke at the national convention for the Portrait Society of America, when I attended that meeting at the Hyatt Regency hotel near Chicago. Daniel also likes to paint images of people traveling via the NYC subway system. Check it out!
oobopshbam81 (3 years ago)
He cannot paint?
Duane Anderson (4 years ago)
david hockney is entitled to his opinions, as are we all. david if you underestimate a medium don't, please don't blame the medium. Seems like some sort of manna falling from the ivory tower of a "serious" artist. but the manna is molded and stale. " life is lurking every where." 
Gregory Whoee (4 years ago)
Completely agree with him actually. Hideous an erotic art world tale.
Cornelia Caruntu (4 years ago)
David Hockney
Wenceslao Futanaki (4 years ago)
David Donckey is boring
Fast N Bulbous (4 years ago)
Not sure where he got the idea that fixer chemicals aren't available anymore. It is readily available online and in photo stores and still manufactured by both Ilford and Kodak.
James Middleton (4 years ago)
@drcroc2 but what's more difficult? Trying to make something interesting out of something that already exists, or something that doesn't?
Acquavallo (4 years ago)
Kodak never stopped making fixative. They went through a phase where they thought they would have to stop production of FILM, not fixative. But they're back on their feet and producing film once again. He might be a dick about photography and its place in the world, but he is right about the boring, stale look of magazine from photoshop now. And that there are still still a few technical problem, but that just leaves room for improvement and proves how alive photography is.
KennEH (4 years ago)
Quick tip; Hockney never outright called Photoshop boring. Watch the video before you make the assumption the title is accurate.
Gökçen Cabadan (4 years ago)
Photographic representations and modifications  are very bad now. I was never interested in Vermeer until I see the his original work. Most of  contemporary hyperrealistic artworks have so poor colour values because they use digital photography as a start and destination point . I don't understand why these people are painting :-) 
h.thomas ackermann (4 years ago)
Hockney is Boring !!
IrishBard (1 year ago)
What the fuck do you want him to do?, a somersault?.
Darren Crabb (1 year ago)
Says a man not fit to lick his boots..
Charles K. (4 years ago)
your mother is.
RichardCorral (4 years ago)
h.thomas ackermann Your art is boring
Tarredandfeatherable (4 years ago)
more like impossible to listen to!
h.thomas ackermann (4 years ago)
is he drunk ?
Kez Dearmer (4 years ago)
He's incredible
Sergio Lobato (4 years ago)
Photoshop boring? Hockney is boring.....
Mick Pinches (4 years ago)
Sergio, don't be ridiculous
Sergio Lobato (4 years ago)
+Jeff Byrnes Well stated....
Sergio Lobato (4 years ago)
+Jeff Byrnes I see your point. Never the less, anyone who claims absolutes in art, in my opinion knows nothing about art....
Ariana Lum (5 years ago)
i agree! 100%
Yatukih001 (5 years ago)
Disagreed respectfully. Photography is like business. If great business can be great art so can photography.
Brosky999 (5 years ago)
check it out, this is just my belief. whether you agree with me or not, this is how I feel. have a nice day.
Odie Oni (5 years ago)
seriously I defy you to define what an 'artist' is. If you've check'd out the 'Secret Knowledge' documentary you'll have seen how the old masters traced over projections. That is basically a step away from photography. Yes taking moody black and white photos of a lawn chair doesn't make you an artist but neither does reproducing a masterpiece stroke for stroke because you've added nothing new... Or does it? that is the eternal question... Also not a photographer btw
Brosky999 (5 years ago)
photographers are not artists. they try to be, but they have no talent. they are full of themselves and try to push their beliefs on everyone else. they are not making anything new, they simply take a picture, that is it. a true artist can create from nothing and make something. to any photographer I offended, good. find another name for yourself. artist is reserved for real artists.
Andre Alt (5 years ago)
Clara C (5 years ago)
I can understand his point but there's no doubt that chemicals were damaging and poisoning our eco system. The evolution of technology can't be stop. Picasso was a painter not a photographer and you can't compare a photograph with a painting, their origins are different.
Clara C (5 years ago)
Hahaha the last comment is so true
Sergio Lobato (5 years ago)
This is the sound of a dinosaur as it slowly sinks into a tar pit....
burnsof toboggan (5 years ago)
he's very good at this sort of thing
tagzee (5 years ago)
nice, I film the process of my art

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