Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of...

Editor's Choice

January 20, 2002|By Michael Pakenham

Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters, by David Hockney (Viking Studio, 296 pages, $60).

David Hockney's two-year purposeful pursuit of his proposition that many of the Old Master painters used lenses and / or prisms as aids to their draftsmanship has now been seminared, colloquiumed, discoursed and debated all over the world -- and remains the most intriguing arts controversy in decades. Hockney is not only a historically important and innovative painter in his own right; he is a splendid arts detective and theorist. This magnificently laid-out volume makes his case. It is written in crisp, clean English with 460 illustrations, 402 in color, chosen to prove his point. Pricey, yes, but indisputably an enduring coffee-tabler. This is a book that even the occasional museumgoer will find irresistible -- for its audacity, its revelations, its crisp but thorough scholarship.

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