Reply To: The Experience of Art

  • Christina Florkowski

    June 25, 2023 at 3:13 am

    Here is David Hockney’s response to a drawing by Rembrandt. “The Single Greatest Drawing Ever Made,” he declared flatly. “I defy you to show me a better one.”

    I’d like to hear how others read this. For me, it dances between right and left attention. The details of the marks of the reed pen and the appreciation of the relationships and care evoked by those marks.

    “Look at the speed, the way he wields that reed pen, drawing very fast, with gestures that are masterly, virtuoso, calling attention not to themselves but rather to the very tender subject at hand, a family teaching its youngest member to walk. Look, for instance at those whisking marks on the head and shoulders of the girl in the center, the older sister, probably made with the other side of the pen, which let you know that she is craning, turning anxiously to look at the baby’s face to make sure he’s okay. Or how the mother, on the other side, holds him up in a slightly different, more experienced manner. the astonishing double profile of her face, to either side of the mark. the evident roughness of the material of her dress: how this is decidedly not satin. The face of the baby: how even though you can’t see it, you can tell he is beaming. this mountain of figures, and then, to balance it all, the passing milkmaid, how you can feel the weight of the bucket she carries in the extension of her opposite arm. Look at the speed, the sheer mastery.”