Free «David Hockney, Mulholland Drive: Road to the Studio» Essay Paper

David Hockney, Mulholland Drive: Road to the Studio

Artists absorb the culture that surrounds them in the all-consuming act of creation. Through the creative expression, the artists insert themselves into the cultural discourse of a particular subject they wish to contribute to by their own interpretation of the world they express to the ethereal thread of conversation among a wider community of artists, observers, and critics. With his works of personal expression through photo and paint mediums, David Hockney attempts to encapsulate the experiential sentiment inherent in the subject of his art.

In particular, with Mulholland Drive: Road to the Studio, he goes beyond a simple depiction of his travels from his home in the Hollywood hills down the famous artery of Los Angeles to his place of creation. He captures the essence of the Los Angeles experience in the year it was created, 1980. Materials and color contribute to the achievement of his aim while the variety and movement make this painting an incredible image of Los Angeles in the dawning experimental decade of decadence for which the 1980s later became infamous, although instances where application of generic illustrations of some items within his foreign origins as they are typical to any number of places in the world.

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In retrospect, by choosing the medium of acrylic, Hockney captures the oncoming upsurge of popularity of plastic surgery sweeping among the city’s denizens that is now commonplace. The false posturing of Hollywood’s glamour shines through in the smooth, thick sections like lacquer. His manipulation of the acrylic paint by scraping textures into the plastic while wet produce an effect of blending the outright blemishes of the city and its inhabitants with a veneer of perfection to distract from those flaws. While the acrylic paint gives the impression of plasticity that the wider society commonly associates with Los Angeles, vibrant colors imbue it with the free spirit and promise of the Golden State’s talismanic city.

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Despite the materials on the canvas being stationary in form like many outsiders’ static view of Los Angeles and its people, the use of contrasting colors at various stages of the tour demarks specific places and landmarks that pass in a blur as they fade together and “capture the quintessential Los Angeles experience: driving,” to provide “a personalized panoramic map of Los Angeles based on the artist’s daily trip from his home in the Hollywood Hills to his studio on Santa Monica Boulevard” (Marandel). Hockney employs an orchestral ensemble of color and corresponding sound to compose the masterwork as a conductor of the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles as though it were a symphony for the viewer’s pleasure.

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One can imagine the centrifugal forces experienced when driving through the curves carved out along the land mass and almost hear the bursts of sound at each section of the path with a flash of color. The variety of colors also reflects the growing recognition of the multiculturalism of Los Angeles as minorities would in some cases supplant traditional Hollywood roles usually forced upon them to provide examples of the leading characters and role models.

At the core of this painting, however, one can feel the fun that the artist enjoyed on his daily trek across the ridge of the Hollywood Hills by moving one’s eyes across the sweeping view of the valley. The sun across the hills provides a peaceful serenity to the observer that is inherent in beachside cities where those residents of the drab interior come to vacation away from the banality of their normal lives.

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The lack of realistic scale and depth and somewhat abstract depiction of landmarks does not make it easily recognizable as more than a mountain road with a settlement underneath to untrained eyes. The towers for power lines are reminiscent of the Los Angeles landscape, but are common in many places throughout the world thus leaving some level of ambiguity for the viewer. Flora and structures around the landscape are indefinite in their representation. The absence of people in a picture presenting one of the most populous of American cities could lead one to the conclusion that it is mostly a wilderness area with a road winding through it. In addition, the background of city street maps leaves further ambiguity without the knowledge of the region.

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Altogether, the piece vacillates between definite form and abstract illustration of the features of Los Angeles to provide the viewer with a great sense of the city from both an outsider’s perspective and the intrinsic heart of a transplant who adopted it as his home. Hockney achieves his goal of capturing a sense of the place in his artwork Mulholland Drive: Road to the Studio with the acrylic medium and vibrant variety of colors to encapsulate the essence of Los Angeles in the early 1980s. The road to his studio winds across the work in and out of the various sections and takes the viewer on a journey across a landscape the artist is as familiar with as native to the area, even if it does employ methods that are ambiguous to some degree and could make the area mistaken for any other landscape.

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Hockney offers his unique perspective in the overall discourse of the modern art and, more specifically, the impression of Los Angeles in the wider world. His expression of his routine experience after more than a decade in the city provides the world with a glimpse into the life and spirit of Los Angeles from the perspective of an inhabitant of the Hollywood Hills.

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