Saturday, 4 July 2009

Book review: David Hockney - Nur Natur - Just Nature

Title: David Hockney - Nur Natur - Just Nature
Author: (Publisher): Editor and project management C. Sylvia Weber (Swiridoff Verla)
ISBN 978-3-89929-154-4
Synopsis: Bilingual catalogue of the Just Nature (Nur Natur) exhibition at the Kunsthalle Würth Schwäbisch Hall from 27th April 2009 until 27th September 2009.
Foreword by C. Sylvia Weber. Series of inteersting and informative essays by Christoph Becker, Director of the Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland; Marco Livingstone, Richard Cork and Ian Barker. Contains photographs of Hockney painting plein air and images/details of works produced
Who should buy this?:
  • people interested in the art of David Hockney
  • landscape artists
  • landscape artists working in series
  • art historians
  • art libraries
Who should not buy this?
  • people who will feel seriously impoverished by paying the full price - get your library to order it for you!
  • Images of the works 'on site', in exhibitions and of Hockney creating art in his studio
  • Front and back endpapers include multiple images from Hockney's 80 page Yorkshire Sketchbook dated April 04.
  • Contains a list of works with full details (ie title, dimensions, medium and support, date started/painted, how signed and the catalogue page no. where it can be seen
  • Includes as an appendix a revised and updated biography based on the Hockney Pictures website biography
  • excellent production values in terms of colour, paper and book binding/publication
Think Again?
  • Limited distribution - not yet on Amazon - (May not be distributed via Amazon?)
  • It's very expensive. My copy cost me £44.50
  • Not yet indexed on Google (apart from my blog post) or listed on Google Books - so it's very difficult to know who's stocking it
Summary: This is a recommended read It's an expensive but useful addition to the library of any Hockneyphile

I find that people who buy exhibition catalogues are people who creating a library about a particular topic or artist. I've been buying books about David Hockney for a very long time now and I'd have felt that my small library was somehow deficient if it hadn't contained this catalogue of his exhibition David Hockney - Just Nature which is at Kunsthalle Würth, Schwäbisch Hall in Germany 27th April 2009 – 27th September 200

Front Cover of the Catalogue for the Just Nature exhibition

That's despite the fact that this relates to an exhibition which I may not get to see. (Is it going to come to England I ask myself?). When developing landscapes, I'm also very partial to drawing trees and vistas so the subject matter is also very special to me. The notion of doing a series is also one that I started to develop this year with my Ecology Park Pond series - and Hockney's work has provided a bit of an impetus for me to get on with it!
You can't beat nature, it never lets you down.... It's the biggest painting project I've ever done, and I've only just begun
David Hockney - quoted on the back cover of the catalogue
The book comes in three parts
  • The German version of the essays
  • the catalogue in the middle which comprises a comprehensive list of works and reproductions of all works - both drawings and paintings. This groups works as listed below - the names will be familiar to those who saw the documentary
    • Woldgate Woods
    • The Tunnerl near Kilham
    • Roads, Fields and Vistas
    • Bigger Trees
    • Hawthorne Blossom
    • Trees near Thixendale
    • Timber and Totems
    • Computer Drawings
Essentially this cxatalogue an insight into what Hockney has been doing for the last four years or so - which is painting the landscapes he's seen in the Wolds of East Yorkshore in watercolour on paper and in sketchbooks, then oil on canvas and latterly as digital artwork published as giclee prints. You can see images of various works in the links contained in mt post yesterday on Making A Mark (see David Hockney - recent exhibitions). As such it provides an excellent complement to the recent BBC documentary about Hockney which also focused on Hockney's return to painting and new venture of painting plein air as well as the approach used for developing his oil paintings and the development of very large multiple canvas works.

The major benefit for me of this book is being able to see:
  • sequences of paintings - of the same subject across the seasons
  • close up reproductions of sections of paintings
  • being able to see his drawings and sketchbooks which didn't feature in any significant way in the documentary or exhibitions of work I've seen so far. Some of the drawings remind me of the mark-making made by Van Gogh in his series of drawings of vistas of the Provencal landscape. If I had a choice I think I'd probably want to own one of his drawings - but that's me!
  • the essays which recount the author's relationship with this area of Yorkshire, the context for and influences on his most recent work, plus experiences of discussing particular works or the project as a whole with Hockney. It's chock full of quotable quotes.
If you start with some excitement, you will probably finish up with some excitement as well.

I'll tell you this - cold makes you work fast

It's not just about landscape; it's about being in it, seeing it, it's about England. I'm painting the real England.

You have to plan to be spontaneous

various quotations found in this catalogue
One of the reasons this is not a cheap book is that, first it's bilingual and consequently it's like two books in one. Secpomd, it's a quality production in terms of the design and layout, the colour reproduction of the images (some of which I have seen in real life) and the quality of the paper and binding used for this catalogue. This is not going to fall apart!

The difficulty experienced in locating a copy suggests there may not have been many produced which also might mean buying this book coiuld be a good investment!

You can find more details - in German - on the website of publisher Swiridoff Verlag

This is a recommended read


harrybell said...

Oh lordy, how I want this catalogue. You've certainly sold me on it. But £44... It's listed on at 39.80 euros, which seems to work out cheaper, but although I've bought from them in the past there are new security screens which I've been unable to read (my German is minimal). Maybe perseverence will out, tho.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Harry - why not contact Martin Stankewitz? - see

I'm sure he'd help you with the German.

Don't forget to get a quote for shipping as it's very heavy.

Or maybe give Tate Britain a ring and se if they will send you a copy.

harrybell said...

Even better, Katherine - I've just ordered one from the Book Depository for £26.75 (+ free delivery)!

Katherine Tyrrell said...

That's weird - I can't even get it to show up on that website. Is there a special trick to the search?

Katherine Tyrrell said...

It doesn't even come up on the ISBN search

harrybell said...

If you put "David Hockney" into the search box on the Home page, it comes up as No.3 in the results.

I originally found it there by searching "David Hockney" in Amazon and they showed it as available from "These Sellers", one of them being The Book Depository.

I've used them before and found them very good and often cheaper than Amazon.

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