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Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 18. September 2006

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  • Taschenbuch: 328 Seiten
  • Verlag: Thames & Hudson; Auflage: 2nd Revised edition (18. September 2006)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 0500286388
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500286388
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 23,8 x 2,7 x 30,2 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 5.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (2 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 3.619 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
  • Komplettes Inhaltsverzeichnis ansehen

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British painter David Hockney, well known for his cool and lovely paintings of California pools, has taken on the new role of detective. For two years Hockney seriously investigated the painting techniques of the old masters, and like any admirable sleuth, compiled substantial evidence to support his revolutionary theory. Secret Knowledge is the fruit of this labor, an exhaustive treatise in pictures revealing clues that some of the world's most famous painters, Ingres, Velázquez, Caravaggio (just to mention a few) utilized optics and lenses in creating their masterpieces. Hockney's fascination with the subject is contagious, and the book feels almost like a game with each analysis a "How'd they do that?" instead of a whodunit. While some may find the technical revelation a disappointment in terms of the idea of genius, Hockney is quick to point out that the use of optics does not diminish the immensity of artistic achievement. He reminds the reader that a tool is just a tool, and it is still the artist's hand and creative vision that produce a work of art. (296 pages, 460 illustrations, 402 in color.) --J.P. Cohen -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.


When looking at pictures, one can have no more stimulating and provocative companion than Hockney. ("The Times Literary Supplement," London)

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1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich Von Fabian Peise am 2. Februar 2011
Format: Taschenbuch
"geheim" heißt der Titel, weil keine sattsam bekannten Erklärungen über Perspektiven oder den Goldenen Schnitt zur Sprache kommen, sondern eine Entdeckung, die der Autor selbst gemacht hat: Anhand von vielen Beispielen wird dargestellt, daß die Künstler bereits lange vor Vermeer mit optischen Tricks, Linsen und Spiegeln arbeiteten. Nicht immer muss man dabei mit dem Autor einer Meinung sein, denn es ist auch denkbar, daß der eine oder andere Künstler einfach Talent hatte. Doch eine abweichende Meinung macht das Buch nicht schlechter: Die reichlichen, toll ausgewählten Bildbeispiele machen den Leser selbst zu einem Detektiv, der den spekulativen Tricks der alten Meister auf der Spur ist.
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0 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich Von Rolf Ratke am 2. Juli 2013
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
quick delivery and very good condition of the product; book was very good protected by the outer carton, good source
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109 von 117 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Hockney's Evidence is Thought-Provoking, Verifiable/Falsifiable 26. März 2007
Von Evan M. Dudik - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Critics and reviewers who have rated Hockney's Secret Knowledge low seem to me to overlooks some major points. Some of these I find more persuasive than the the issue of alleged perspective misjudgment which seem to attract the greatest heat.

1. H points out that a huge majority of portraits in the period show the model as left handed--some 80%. This is consistent with use of lenses and inconsistent with the frequency of left-handedness in the population. Now, here is a verifiable fact. Are H's numbers right--or are they not?

2. H is not claiming that everyone 1400-1650 was a poor draftsman. At least in what I've seen so far, he doesn't claim e.g. that Rembrandt used optics. Part of his evidence is however that some artists who were great painters were not great draftsmen--their painting exceeds in accuracy their draftsmanship. Now this appears to me again something that is verifiable by a third party. (The question of H's own draftsmanship abilities is totally irrlevant. I don't like his art much myself).

3. In a highly competitive art market, where realism counted, what is the likelihood that artists would >not< use devices that helped them both with accuracy and speed? Even if the great Ren artists could paint and draw realistically without optics (and their education certainly was thorough), throughput and competitive concerns surely would have pushed them in that direction.

4. To my knowledge, no one has responded to H's claim that the change in light to very strong with dark shadows from about 1400 (light is flat) to 1500 is very consistent with use of optics. Yes, that is not the only possible explanation. But from a philosophy of science perspective, this phenomenon and the phenomenon of increased accuracy need to be explained. H at least offers an explanation. The burden of an alternative explanation is on the critics. H's hypothesis could be falsified by showing that in fact strong lighting was used before this period and flat lighting afterwards.

5. Another phenomenon for which H has an explanation but for which I haven't seen alternatives is the fact that in many realistic paintings, depth of field is evident. An example is the famous Vermeer milk pitcher painting. H has an explanation of why the foreground breadbasket is out of focus, while the background basket is (oddly) in focus. If a critic doesn't like H's explanation, he/she should provide an alternative.

6. H shows that in some cases extremely precise scaling is evident--scaling that would be very difficult to do by hand. Prof Falco, the optics and superconducting physicist who collaborated with H., has done the math and claimed that obtaining such accuracy by hand is very difficult since the error is (as I remember) under 2%). Doing anything by hand with under 2% error is quite a feat--including reconciling bank statements :)-- never mind drawing. Here is another phenomenon in which either the factual statements by H and Falco can be easily verified/falsified or need an alternative explanation should be provided.

On an ad hominem note, I think it is worth pointing out that art historians have a built-in motive for rejecting H's hypothesis: They didn't find it! I took an amateur to notice the discrepancies. Finally, personal experience suggests that some people have a lot more difficult time with accuracy/obtaining a likeness than others. For H to be correct, he does not need to support the claim that everyone who was accurate used optics, only that some did and these raised the bar for the art community as a whole.

Thanks for reading.
137 von 160 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Wow! 7. November 2001
Von R. Hettinger - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Great book. Reads like the denouement of spell-binding mystery novel with the visual and textual evidence mounting piece by piece until the conclusion seems inevitable. As a working artist, Hockney teases out clues that may have eluded art historians. The book itself is a piece of artwork with excellent reproductions, skillful layout and beautiful typography.
There is one sore spot. Historical and scientific types will quickly notice that Hockney reached his conclusions BEFORE his two year search for evidence and that weaknesses in the argument and evidence are not fully considered. The examples appear selective and are possibly not representative. Looking at the sample artwork, you can see his point but would not be suprised to hear valid alternative explanations. Though not proof positive, the work is persuasive, enlightening and more than a little revolutionary.
53 von 61 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Fascinating historical reconstruction. 26. Februar 2005
Von wiredweird - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
The premise is simple: Hockney believes that the Old Masters of European art used tools and techniques of which little record remains. This book presents his justification for that belief.

The first half of this book is visual. It shows the original paintings and drawings that led Hockney to this idea. Once it's pointed out, many signs are unmistakable: odd proportions in otherwise masterful works, inconsistent perspective drawn by people who really knew perspective, and a few other better-known oddities. Although I'm not a fan of Hockney's own work, I respect the training and sensitivity that picked out these features.

Hockney goes on to show how these artifacts could have come from use of a family of optical tools, including camera lucida and several variants on the camera obscura. This is where he brings the most to this book, in trying the tools himself, as an artist, and seeing what unique features each tool imposes on the resulting artworks. This is what has so many critics upset - the idea that the Old Masters might have used every tool possible to complete their commissions faster, and to give their patrons the most pleasing result for the ducat. Those critics know about the assembly-line work in some of the Old Masters' studios and who know about the other mechanical aids that are well documented, but squawk at the idea of adding another tool to their toolboxes. Huh?

Hockney's evidence is often circumstantial, since painting was (and often is) a secretive and competitive business. Still, he offers a good story, and the second half of the book adds a strong foundation of written records to the structure. This is the book's weakness, though. Hockney is an artist, not a historian or optical technologist. He chose a story-telling format for presenting his findings, the letters he exchanged with scholars and specialists in other fields. It has a friendly look, but lacks in density and in organization of the historical records.

Despite its many flaws, I find it a fascinating study. Hockney really brings history to life, with his own hands, dispelling the idea that historical study is a dry, dusty practice. His documentation lacks in formal rigor, and he addresses the Great Masters about whom people have strong sentiment. Some people see that as iconoclasm for its own sake - guys, get over it.
-- Address his facts with facts. Name-calling says more about you than him.
-- Picking one nit (and there are lots) doesn't pick apart the whole presentation.
-- Don't assume that Hockney's own art (of which I'm not a fan) decides the merit of his historical analysis.
-- Accept the idea that his eye may be better than the words he can put to his vision.

It's an honest and vivid account, with a good base in reason and fact. It deserves respect on that account, and works hard to earn the reader's enjoyment. I recommend this to anyone interest in the history and practice of visual art.

20 von 24 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
a fascinating insight 7. Dezember 2001
Von James G. Mundie - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I just received Hockney's book and have been eagerly pawing through the text and illustrations. I first became aware of Hockney's latest idea and project through an article in the New Yorker about a year or so ago, and at the time was quite intrigued. As a practicing artist myself, it's wonderful to have this theory of optical assistance put forward by another working artist rather than an art historian of limited mark-making experience, as it were.
While at times Mr. Hockney may overstate the possible use of optics where supreme draughtmanship might explain the mastery of the old masters, his ideas are certainly intriguing and merit further examination. It was especially interesting to me to watch Hockney's own mark-making 'improve' as he himself practised drawing portraits using an optical device invented in the early 19th century. I even found myself thinking, "Hey, where can I get my hands on a camera lucida and give this a whirl, too?"
Despite whatever academic faults one might find with Hockney's method of establishing his theory, the book itself is a joy. Hockney approaches this topic with unabashed enthusiasm, and rewards the reader with lavish and well-elucidated visual aids.
41 von 52 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
My two bits worth 2. November 2002
Von "sharengs" - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Poor David. His book has certainly stirred up controversy. This has to be the most reviewed art book I've ever come across.
First of all I'd like to say that I find the authors style refreshing in that he doesn't try to force his opinions on you and his arguments are logically set out. However I have to agree with some of the other reviewers in that he did come to his conclusions before he proved them and I feel that some of his evidence is inadequate and forced to fit the theory and not the other way round and some of his arguments are faulty or badly presented.
However, the authors' overall information appears to be based on pretty solid ground and I found it quite interesting. There seems to be enough contemporary evidence available to show that the sort of optical devices he talks about were available to artists of the time if they wanted to use them. I think at the end of the day though it all comes back to - does the use of any sort of optical device enable you to paint something that you wouldn't have the skill to paint without.
In my experience, the answer is no.
If you check out the websites of any of the good realist art schools you'll see that people today can match anything the old masters did in terms of realism without the use of any sort of photographic or optical device at all (many realist artists are dyed in the wool 'purists' in regards to that ([...] is a good example). However David Hockney never claimed this. In fact he writes in the introduction "Let me say here that optics don't make drawing any easier either, far from it - I know, I've used them". The fact that he hasn't made this view clear throughout the rest of the book and is known as not being an accomplished realist painter himself, is the reason I think, that he's drawn so many peoples fire.
Also, Anthony Ryder (a very skilled realist artist and author of the book `The Artists Complete Guide to Figure Drawing') says that it takes him about 20 hours to complete a life drawing; and that's just a drawing, let alone a painting. And he's an expert. Possibly add another 10-15 hours for a painting. What wealthy customer has the patience and time to pose for that long? I think that any `old master' or painter would be very grateful to get their hands on something that could accurately and helpfully speed up the whole process if they needed or wanted it.
Apart from that, the illustrations in this book are lavish and there are quite a few close-ups, which is always a bonus for an artist. The writing is refreshingly easy to read and interesting, although perhaps lacking a little in the scholarship and research department. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in the subject. At any rate, at least you can have something to say to those irritating people (usually non-painters) who claim that " real painters don't use photographs".
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