British painter David Hockney has embraced the new Apple iPad as a boon to art. The artist, whose most famous work is a series of pool paintings set in Los Angeles and who has experimented with iPhone photographs in his work, said the new Apple touchscreen computer tablet will have a transformative effect on art. “The iPad is many things, but one is a very useful new visual tool,” Hockney told Britain's Times newspaper in an interview on Thursday. “There is of course a dark side to it. It doesn't take too much imagination to see it will get thinner, perhaps even like a piece of paper, and then they might be compulsory — an iPad passport with your whole life story in it, a more sinister form of control.”

The 72-year-old Yorkshireman thinks that the iPad's ability to share images will also have profound effects, both artistically and politically. “As it empowers more and more people to distribute their own images, it weakens the older suppliers of images and perhaps governments as well,” he said. Hockney said his iPhone work may be very 21st century, but it still requires an ancient method of display — mounted on a wall in a gallery — for admirers to get the full effect. “Last year I made 300 drawings on an iPhone. You can only see them one at a time (on an iPhone), so I am having an old-fashioned exhibition. You can compare drawings and keep groups together.” Despite his enthusiasm for his new iPad, Hockney said he could not give up painting. “I see the iPad as a wonderful new drawing medium, but I am at a loss as to how to make it pay,” he said.

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