A History of Pictures: From the Cave to the Computer Screen

coverart‘The history of pictures begins in the caves and ends, at the moment, with the computer screen. Who knows where it will go next? But one thing is certain, the challenge remains the same: how do you represent the three-dimensional world on a two-dimensional surface?’ – David Hockney

Informed and energized by a lifetime of painting, drawing and making images with cameras, Hockney, in collaboration with the art critic Martin Gayford, explores how and why pictures have been made. What makes marks on a flat surface interesting? How do you show movement in a still picture, and how do films and television connect with old masters? What are the ways in which time and space can be condensed into a static image? What do pictures show – truth or lies? Do photographs present the world as we experience it?

Juxtaposing a rich variety of images – a still from a Disney cartoon with a print by Hiroshige, a scene from an Eisenstein film with a Velázquez painting – the authors cross the normal boundaries between high culture and popular entertainment, and make unexpected connections across time and media.

Building on Hockney’s groundbreaking book Secret Knowledge, they argue that film, photography, painting and drawing are deeply interconnected. Insightful and thought-provoking, A History of Pictures is an important contribution to our appreciation of how we represent our reality.


The Sunday Times

The Guardian

Financial Times

The Times

Sydney Morning Herald

The Daily Telegraph


Read an extract in The Spectator Magazine