Are These iPad Paintings 'Very Remarkable' Or 'Quite Bad'?

David Hockney, the English painter known for his pop art and technological experimentation, has beamed more than 300 iPad drawings to an ongoing exhibition in Paris. This act has been more controversial than you might have guessed!

"Very unremarkable... some are quite bad," writes former New York Times web design director Khoi Vinh. "Garbage" is the verdict of Choire Sicha, the Awl co-editor and former art dealer.

But as The Atlantic reminds us, Hockney has been toying with tech tools for decades, including 1980s graphics programs and something called "FAX art". And there are some practical benefits to his tablet use: " The iPad's backlight lets you paint at any time of day, the app's colour wheel provides every pigment, and its very nature renders set-up and clean-up obsolete." The iPad also lets Hockney do most of his painting in bed. With another Apple device he was able to quickly render a scene of dawn breaking breaking across the North Sea, when it normally "would be too dark to see the paints."

Even Sicha concedes the "marvellous and awesome and unexpected" aspect of this work, as does Vinh. But conceding the amazing possibilities inherent in iPad paintings can make Hockney's stuff seem all the more dim. Vinh:

Someone like David Hockney, you'd expect, would be able to show us entirely new worlds... on a device like the iPad. Instead the works in "Fresh Flowers" are faint echoes of a world we already know.

Or to put it in the words of native iPad critics: "One star/Would not recommend/'Lots of potential, weak execution'."

[iPad paintings via The Atlantic. Click image to expand]


    Should this not be judged in the same category of photoshop art? And if so, should it not be appropriately panned without a second thought. There is nothing specific enough to warrent a apple product advertisment highlighting generic 'advantages' of a digital medium.

    If we are going to reward mediocre art for the specific software used, we should really be applauding the MS Paint revolution of 5 years ago which more thouroughly captured the pop art values which this project is proclaiming.

      Art is subjective, and there is the problem in one word.

      Any art is good/bad/mediocre at the same time. It might be seen by some to have more/less value due to what it represents, how it was done, and where it is exhibited, but none of that means anything to most people.

      Artistically, I think the pics have merit, due to the skill needed to produce the art with the tools used, but on their own, the pics aren't too special.

      Then again, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein did some very average art in their day, and look at the perceived value and artistic merit attached to them. ;)

        "Artistically, I think the pics have merit, due to the skill needed to produce the art with the tools used"

        To then say it requires special concideration 'because' is was made on an iPad smacks of reality distortion field syndrome. This is not like the pioneering days of photography where it was trying to establish itself as a bonefide artistic medium. Digital art has been around for some time now, and this is poor digital art reguardless of the device used to create it.

      It's all about context. I can do that same thing and show it to my friends, and its just me drawing on an iPad.
      Because Hockey is already an established artist, his using a new medium is making a comment about the transitory nature of the artistic medium...or something.

      If you were to look at this as an image then I would agree with you in that it is garbage.

      As digital art, I've seen better productions with MS Paint.

      For an image to be art there must be some sort of dialogue to accompany the image itself.

      Go to a gallery or museum and every art piece is accompanied by a dialogue describing the artist's motivation, or commentary of what it is conveying, or a question that it asks of the viewer.

      Without that dialogue, the only valid opinion you can make of a given image is whether or not you like it.

      From the article it appears that he is an experimenter of tools. In which case I would conclude that an iPad is a tool for producing mediocre imagery.

    If he did it in a paint program would anyone care?


    Hey, Hockney... GET A JOB.

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