Just not good enough
David Hockney was born near my own home town in Yorkshire in 1937 and studied art for 10 years at Bradford School of Art and at The Royal College of Art in London. He and some of his fellow students began the 'Pop Art' movement and he has been a hero of mine for 30 years.
In his statement 'The photograph isn't good enough; it isn't real enough' he is talking about the divide between painting and photography. At one time, he experimented with photographic collages to try to get a more realistic representation of life from photographic images. Here is a collage of his mother in which he tries to represent her face in the same way our eyes examines someone's features.
David did a series of watercolour, full body portraits in the 70s and 80s in which he was exploring the relationship between the sitters and the model and through which he expressed more about the humour, style, personality and demeanor of his models than ever a photograph could have done.
The artist is able to leave things out, include unspoken things and connect the audience to the sitter because of the hours they spent together talking, working, concentrating and sharing until the result is achieved. He may argue that photographers are separated from their subjects by the lens. The subject is frequently subjugated but that is hardly ever the case with painter and sitter.
I love the work of great portrait photographers like Annie Liebowitz, Phil Borges, Nigel Parry and Cecil Beaton but I think I would rather live with a painted portrait than a photograph because, for me, the photograph just isn't good enough.