A History of Pictures

A History of Pictures

From the Cave to the Computer Screen

  1. David Hockney
  2. Martin Gayford
  • ISBN 9780500239490
  • 27.80 x 21.50 cm
  • Hardback
  • 360pp
  • With 310 illustrations in colour and black and white
  • First published 2016

For us to understand how we see the world around us – and hence ourselves – what is needed is a history of pictures. This is that book.
David Hockney and Martin Gayford discuss the 30,000-year-old history of pictures in one brilliantly original volume

‘One thing is for sure. I won’t read a more interesting book all year … Although it begins by eschewing the word art, it starts to make sense of the word for me — more than anything I have ever read’ – A.N.Wilson Sunday Times

Read the whole Sunday Times review here

'Hockney, by sheer brilliance of perception, has put himself in a position where every major picture he knows about is a bottomless well of excitementClive James, Guardian
'… like hearing from superbly well-informed and enthusiastic friends, because the format, the superbly chosen illustrations for the entire history of image-making and the design of the book itself make its contents unusually accessible, allowing them still to be argumentative, stimulating, even at times unexpected, and totally engaging’– Marina Vaizey, V&A Magazine
''A History of Pictures' isn’t really a history book. Rather, it’s an eloquent conversational testimony to the vividness of life lived through intelligent looking. You will see Caravaggio and Citizen Kane with fresh eyes. Your Instagram feed will never look the same again'– Michael Bird, The Daily Telegraph
‘His sharp and often delightfully slanted take on pictures, explained in clear terms, crisps up perceptions and helps readers to look anew’– Rachel Campbell-Johnston, The Times
'... a glorious sea of appreciation and understanding that delights the mind and thrills the eye'– Sydney Morning Herald

A History of Pictures

See an extract from the book in the Royal Academy Magazine
See extracts from the book on Christies' website
See extracts from the book in The Spectator

‘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.

David Hockney is the world’s most popular artist. Martin Gayford’s books include 'Man with a Blue Scarf', 'A Bigger Message' and 'Rendez-vous with Art' (with Philippe de Montebello), all published by Thames & Hudson.