November 10, 2001
10:41 PM Subscribe
Did many of the "great masters" of Western art, well, cheat? Not exactly, says David Hockney, but they were close. In his new book, entitled Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters, Hockney fleshes out a theory that he's been toying with for years: that artists from Raphael to Caravaggio used devices similar to a camera obscura (specifically, a camera lucida), to "assist" them in making near photograph-quality reproductions of their subjects. The theory (and the resulting debate) is fascinating: if these artists did, in fact, benefit from "technical assistance," how should this affect our view of them, and of art history in general?
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