A DUTCH PAINTING that David Hockney first saw more than six decades ago in London is the resurgent inspiration for the art that graces this week’s New Yorker.
“I’ve always loved it,” Hockney, 80, tells the New Yorker’s art director, Francoise Mouly. “It’s a beautiful painting, the original.”
That original is Meindert Hobbema’s 1689 work “The Avenue at Middelharnis,” and young Hockney gazed at it at London’s National Gallery. An iconic Dutch landscape, the painting stands as the pinnacle of Hobbema’s career.
“Van Gogh also wrote about the work,” Hockney tells the New Yorker. “What’s fascinating is that, in the painting, there are two vanishing points.”
Because of the height of the trees, Hockney perceives a second vanishing point in the sky, in addition to the road’s. As a result, Hockney says, “you’re always looking up.”
Last year, Hockney created his homage, “Tall Dutch Trees after Hobbema (Useful Knowledge),” which widens the original’s perspective, somewhat lessening the intensity of those twin vanishing points in favor of what Hockney calls “reverse perspective” that encourages roving eye movement.
And now, for the New Yorker’s Travel and Food issue, Mouly has published a detail from Hockney’s 2017 work, which intensifies the “always looking up” effect. The cover detail is titled “The Road.”
Hockney enjoyed a career retrospective last year at the Metropolitan Museum of Art — his creativity forever encouraging our eyes to move and perceive in fresh ways.