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Image Entertainment presents
Hockney at the Tate (1988)

Bragg: What attracts you about the double portrait, first of all?
Hockney: It's twice as interesting as the single portrait.

- Host Melvin Bragg with David Hockney

Review By: debi lee mandel   
Published: November 16, 2000

Stars: David Hockney
Other Stars: Melvyn Bragg
Director: Alan Benson

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for the Nude represented in art
Run Time: 00h:52m:00s
Release Date: October 24, 2000
UPC: 014381582321
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B AB-C+ D-

DVD Review

David Hockney is one of Britain's finest artists of this—and several other—centuries. In 1988, in honor of his 50th birthday, London's Tate Gallery curated the largest retrospective of this controversial artist's work to date. This DVD features a walk-through interview with Hockney himself for a programme called South Bank.

I noted in a recent review here on dOc, Dale said he felt the lack of an objective perspective in the documentary The Unknown Jonathan Winters: On the Loose. In this case, it is all the more fascinating to hear the artist discuss his own work, taking us beneath the layers of paint to the inspiration behind several of his major pieces. Melvyn Bragg accompanies Hockney through the galleries and prompts him with interesting questions to stimulate the artist's comments.

Some of the pieces highlighted here are: Portrait of my Father, 1995; We Two Boys Together, Clinging, 1961; Mr. And Mrs. Clark & Percy, 1970; Mulholland Drive, 1980 and his photomontage (Hockney calls them "Joiners") of Pearblossom Highway, 1986.

As a painter myself, I have had a love/hate relationship with the work of this exuberant artist. I tend to lean away from his early LA work, which beautifully captures the brilliant light of California but seem harsh and barren. I prefer his "dyed in the wool" paper paintings (none of which are featured in this documentary), his larger, cubist-inspired work (like the Mulholland piece) and I am awed by the process that goes into his composite photographs. His ebullience as he describes the construction of A Visit with Christopher and Don, 1984 is irresistible, and his dissection of the double portrait, Mr. And Mrs. Clark & Percy is enlightening.

David Hockney is one of the most important and inspiring artists of the late 20th century; a progressive and inventive mind that continues to reshape Contemporary Art while remaining ever-aware of its roots. There is not much discussion of his numerous set designs, and I was disappointed there were no examples of his paper paintings featured here—but there is a lot of fabulous information covered in this 52-minute peek inside the creative life.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Originally made for television, the overall look seems poorly lit, cursed by a sort of grayish cast, which reads like that overbearing Kodak blue. The contrast seems adjusted more for the art than our hosts, providing good color where it is most important. The image is sharp and extremely clean with not edge enhancement apparent.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital monaural track seems a bit deadened throughout. Hockney himself has a bit of a whistling lisp that is a bit tough over time. Nothing remarkable, but quite serviceable.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Packaging: Snapper
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Hockney at the Tate features 12 chapter stops, very well placed, but that's it. A slide show of the featured work or an essay on the artist's career would have been a nice addition.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

"You start looking at the patterns the water makes—some people never notice the patterns at all. But I noticed them, and you see this sort of dancing light causing it.... If you photograph moving water in a swimming pool it's always frozen; whereas if you're painting, you make the lines dance and flow."
- David Hockney

Hockney is a slow and careful speaker; one has the sense he works in slow and careful moves. A short, educational and delightful look at this remarkable and widely influential artist. Highly Recommended.


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