The December 2001 conference



> Find out about ordering books, audio tapes, and video tapes

> See the original schedule of speakers, and their biographies.

On December 1 & 2, 2001, a conference was held in NYU about the questions posed within this web site. The two-day conference presented a public discussion of the new theory advanced by world renowned artist David Hockney, working in collaboration with University of Arizona physicist Charles Falco, to the effect that, as far back as the 1420s, Master Painters in the High Tradition were deploying optical devices to render lifelike images of people and their surroundings. The conference brought together Hockney, Falco, and their principal supporters and skeptics among art and science historians, critics, scientists and painters for the first full public airing of their views.

Public awareness of Hockney's new interpretation become more widespread with the publication in Winter 2001 of Hockney's exposition of his thesis, Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters (Viking, November 2001).

Four weeks following that publication, the New York Institute for the Humanities convened its two-day conference. Hockney and Falco kicked off the conference on Saturday morning with the American premiere screening of Hockney's recent BBC documentary on the theory. Over the next two days, five panels, featuring over twenty five contributors -- including Richard Wolheim, Susan Sontag, Svetlana Alpers, Martin Kemp, Michael Fried, Chuck Close, Philip Pearlstein, John Walsh, Linda Nochlin and Rosalind Krauss -- evaluated various aspects of the theory. There was also be a display area in the neighboring Greenberg Lounge in which Hockney and others will be demonstrating several of the alleged optical techniques.

The Conference, sponsored in part by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Peter Norton Family Foundation, was open to the public and free; attendance exceded the capacty of the 400-seat hall and the neighboring Greenberg Lounge.