|Looking at Pictures on a Screen, 1977, oil on canvas, 188 x 188 cm|
The act of spectatorship itself as the subject of an artwork is a major revolution of 20th century art and a primary tenant of Post-Modernism. In Hockney's Looking at Pictures on a Screen the artist's friend Henry Geldzahler stands in profile before photographic reproductions of paintings tacked to a screen.
The flat surface of the picture plane is referenced (or even in this case: of the computer screen) as we watch Geldzahler regarding a picture. The viewer steps back and in a way watches themself looking.
This self-reflexivity opens the viewer up to a raft of conceptual angles as the space, social position, culture and overall context of the viewer is highlighted as relevant and highly influential to the art experience. Many of us today more often see art in books and online than we are able to in galleries. This cannot have no influence on how we view art today compared with previous generations.
It is only by being conscious of our own looking that we can fully embrace the art of seeing.