History of Art and Technology

""Since becoming a creative technologist over 15 years ago and an entrepreneur 5 years ago, I’ve become interested in how technology and the arts have been evolving together. Did you know that the evolution of En plein air painting and also Impressionism was made possible by the development of tubes of paint? Before the development of  Oil Paint in Tubes , artists or their apprentices would mix their own paint colors in the studio.

Pablo Picasso was famous for mining the history or art for sources.  Modern artist have also utilized newer technology in their work. Edgar Degas one of most favorite Post-Impressionist artists, began to incorporate unusual angles and compositions in his paintings and was influenced by the growing use of photography.

David Hockney is one artist in recent years who has combined his passion for visual history with the use of new technologies in his own work. He has been somewhat controversial in recent years for his thesis laid out in the book theSecret Knowledge, Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters”. We don’t have much written data about the tools that the Old Masters’ used in their work but we do have the paintings. His thesis is that by studying the works of the old masters one can detect where and when optical lens were used in the construction of the paintings. I recently picked up the second edition of the book, and have been impressed with his detailed and passionate assessment of the Old Masters techniques.  He creates a compelling thesis by outlining and showing beautiful examples of pre-optics work by Giotta with art work from artists like Ingres, Carvaggio, and Vermeer that show evidence of having been constructed with the assistance of optical devices such as the Camera obscura.

Knowing about his study of the lost techniques of the Old Masters, Hockney’s use of technology in his own art becomes even more intriguing. He is one of the first major artists to actively use the iPhone as a sketch tool and has begun using the iPad  for sketching and drawing.  I’m looking forward to seeing more of his work in the coming years. David Hockney as a creative technologist and artist is a visionary pioneer and role model.