I asked David Hockney to help me reshape the violin

I asked David Hockney to help me reshape the violin


norman lebrecht

January 09, 2022

The eminent Zurich luthier Peter Greiner is trying to reconfigure the instrument. He tells Christian Berzins:

‘Bei der Ästhetik und dem Klang. Hinsichtlich der Ästhetik habe ich grosse Ambitionen: Wenn es gelingt, einen Künstler wie David Hockney ein Bild auf ein neues Instrument malen zu lassen, könnte das seit 400 Jahren unveränderte Design an unseren Zeitgeist angepasst werden. Ich habe Hockney bereits angefragt.’

‘When it comes to aesthetics, I have great ambitions: if an artist like David Hockney succeeds in painting a picture on a new instrument, the design, which has remained unchanged for 400 years, could be adapted to our zeitgeist. I’ve already asked Hockney. ‘

Full interview here.

Image: Beethoven by Hockney


  • guest says:

    Poor zeitgeist if we supposedly care more about pictures on violins than about the sound… But perhaps WE don’t care? Perhaps, just perhaps, it’s Peter Greiner who cares? Getting someone to paint something on your violin is piece of cake compared to improving the sound of the violin. And, um, painting something on a violin isn’t reshaping, it’s just painting something on a background that doesn’t need a picture.

  • Beatrix says:

    Perhaps if refraining from copying Guarneri Del Gesu’s masterpiece instruments and falsely ageing them via campy antiquing methods could be a start…

    • Terence says:

      Copying the design is okay. Antiquing is what buyers want.

      But there is a psychological issue with, say, a white violin finished with clear varnish notwithstanding the sound may be fine.

    • Paul says:

      People have been making antiqued copies of classic instruments since since the time of Pique and Lupot, around 1800, so I would try to relax the moral outrage just a wee bit.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Of course, something that has proved to be perfect for over 400 years should be changed to something that better reflects our own time – the idea that an artefact from our past could be really better than something WE could dream-up, is an offence that is impossible to bear.

  • Gerry Feinsteen says:

    Hockney’s Beethoven should be titled: “After the Knife Symphony: Beethoven Meets Beverly Hills”

  • If he wants to be really mod and trendy, get Banksy to paint the violin… on the INSIDE!

    Let everyone know there’s a Banksy painting in the violin that no one can ever see. No hide-glue on this violin, it will be all permanent construction adhesive!

    Everyone will want to hear it and then expertly pronounce on how the mere presence of the painting has altered the perception of the performance.

    Problem: Banksy is uncontactable. One may have to settle for Hockney.

  • Freewheeler says:

    Been there, done that: see the Felix Savart violin.