David Hockney – Joiners

28th February 2020

To follow on from my Analytical Cubism post, I am researching the development of the idea of multiple viewpoints and fragmentation of images in the area of photography. I have loved this creative style ever since I had seen one of David Hockney ‘Joiners’ work in London. I must have been about 16 years old and I remember jumping on the train and lying to my mum that I was out around a friends house rather than on a train to London. I cannot remember which gallery I had escaped to, this was in the mid to lates 80’s, but I do remember this huge bridge constructed of multiple photos and I still remember that initially feeling of “Oh shit, this is great, who has done this?” Seeing this work was my first contact with the name David Hockney and I have been very, very fond of his work ever since.

The Brooklyn Bridge 1982 David Hockney
Image taken from Google image search David Hockney Joiners The Bridge

The title of the video below is, ‘What David Hockney’s Brilliant Collages Reveal About Photos’ and was uploaded by Smithsonian Channel, 2016. I am thinking it is part of the interview from the 80’s that The South Bank shot.

What David Hockney’s Brilliant Collages Reveal About Photos’
uploaded by Smithsonian Channel, 2016.
Notes to accompany above YouTube video uploaded by Smithsonian Channel, 2016

Hockney said of his Joiner concept that it was “a truer way of seeing” and that television and movies look unreal to him now.

Space is an illusion but the time isn’t an illusion it is real and accounted for in the number of pictures.

Hockney from the above video

He began experimenting within his new concept with the Polaroid camera. The first trial that he made consisted of 30 photographs all taken from different viewpoints. He has said that the way he composed the images excited him because he saw time appearing within the completed image and if time was present then so was a “bigger illusion of space.”

I actually think Hockney’s earlier images work visually better than his photomontages if we want to be visually true to life, as we see things. For me personally, they work because they are in a grid format and each image has a border which adds as a barrier to the next image. This therefore encourages our mind to stop and relook so the concept of time and viewpoint is constantly changing. I also feel that these works are more closely to how we humans see the world around us, in parts which our brain fixes together and then fills in the gaps to produce a false reality of how it sees these combined.

The two above joiners are amongst the more successful ones because multiple viewpoints can be seen. The two below I feel, although amazing works, do not work as well and remain quite static like a photograph would usually be. I believe this to be because the subjects are face on to the viewer and there are not any multiple viewpoints as such only multiple images from the same perspective that have been placed together.

By 1982 his composite photographs had developed into photomontage. These photomontages are complete images and we do not need to fit the pieces together, they show many different viewpoints at once in one complete composition and the multiple viewpoints and perspectives are easily picked out by our brains because the combination is unreal to us. This is why I feel that the first joiners are more how we see things, in parts, in snippets and our brain pieces them together.

With the photomontages the piecing together of the image as a whole has been done for us so we are then left with the time to view and take in the different viewpoints and perspectives and then to admire the image and the concept at the same time.

Examples of the photomontages that I particularly like can be seen below.

My favourite photomontages that I think work better as multiple viewpoint images therefore giving us the best feeling of time and of reality are the two I have uploaded below.

The first is a self-portrait of Hockney himself and the second is an image that I have taken from the front cover of a DVD on Hockney that I have just bought for this exercise called, ‘David Hockney, Joiner Photographs,’ directed by Don Featherstone, 2012, from the series Art Lives by ARTHAUS MUSIK. The DVD includes footage of Hockney talking about the joiner photographic approach and he shares the creative “joiner” process with the viewers.

Hockney self-portrait
image taken from Google search page (Hockney’s early joiner photographs)
The Crossword Puzzle – image from the front of the DVD –
‘David Hockney, Joiner Photographs,’ directed by Don Featherstone, 2012

To complete this research I have included a link to the website of Daily Art Magazine dailyartmagazine.com The reason I have included this page out of all the numerous others that cover Hockney’s Joiners and photomontage photography works is because it shows a variety of photographic photomontage styles of Hockney with text that is short but very informative.


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