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Comprised of groundbreaking ipad landscape works, The Yosemite Suite series show Hockney once again revolutionising printing methods. Having already experimented with lithography, etching and screen printing, he now turned to the digital to achieve his characteristically striking compositions in bold colours.
That same year Hockney took his iPad to Yosemite National Park in California and proceeded to ‘paint’ 24 views of this majestic valley using the Brushes app. The ease of using a digital medium allowed him to work en plein air just like artists such as Monet and Turner whom he admired. Before he would have had to use watercolour or pen and ink to make preparatory sketches before transferring the work to an etching plate or lithographic stone but with the iPad he could work directly onto the screen, picking and choosing from hundreds of shades of colour and thicknesses of brush without ever getting his hands dirty. And here colour abounds. The works recall his paintings and prints from the ’90s with their bold clashing tones – at their most extreme the prints depict bright pink roads, as in Untitled No.4, electric blue shadows and acid green trees. Elsewhere the colours are toned down and the contrasts subtly blended, as with Untitled No.20 and Untitled No.15.
Despite the flatness of the digital medium, Hockney manages to incorporate depth and texture into the natural landscape he is depicting, with sponge-like brush effects in Untitled No.10 and Untitled No.11 which sees him painting trees in a naturalistic style. Elsewhere the digital nature of these prints is enhanced with crude rounded lines that deliberately recall digital drawing tools, as in Untitled No.16 and Untitled No.24.
Originally using the Brushes app when he first began his iPad paintings, Hockney now uses the updated Brushes Redux and Adobe Sketch apps to create his bright, beloved works.
The series is notable for including people. While Hockney is a great lover of portraiture and has painted and sketched many of his friends and lovers over the years, he doesn't tend to include people in his landscapes. Here we see crowds enjoying the scenery at the famous Tunnel View outlook point in Untitled No.15, which recalls many of Turner’s views featuring figures, and even parked cars in works such as Untitled No.13 and Untitled No.17. In this way Hockney makes the spectacular landscape into a communal experience, foregoing the traditional perspective of the artist painting in the open air, alone with nature. While still sublime, the valley becomes something that can be enjoyed by everyone, in the same way that digital prints have made Hockney’s art more accessible to a wider audience.
In their unmistakable digital style the prints from The Yosemite Suite recall series from the year after including The Arrival of Spring in 2011 and Yosemite - Bigger which saw the artist return to the national park with the intention of creating prints that could be printed at a monumental scale. Many of these new digital works were then exhibited at Hockney’s exhibition at the Royal Academy in 2012, entitled A Bigger Picture, provoking both controversy and delight from critics and visitors alike.
Hockney’s turn to the iPad as a new medium was nothing short of revolutionary. Just as he evolved his prints with the advent of the photocopier, here advanced technology has allowed him to reach new heights of composition, colour and admiration among his fans.
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