Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for August, 2012

In 1910 in an ornate little church in Borja, a village in northeastern Spain,  a local painter named  Elias García Martínez filled a narrow white wall space with a little fresco called “Ecce Homo.”  It shows a scroll on which the suffering thorn-crowned Jesus-head is turning its eyes skyward.  Over the years the fresco deteriorated and Mrs. Cecilia Giménez (below), with the permission of the priest, set out to restore it to its original, of which she had a photo to work from.

The news broke last Friday and over the weekend little Borja was overrun with hundreds of tourists who were eager to see what was universally called a “botched restoration.”   One tourist, interviewed on Spanish TV, said that the original was nice, but this she really likes.

Now what?  What can the church and the town do?

1) Paint over the fresco with white paint and forget about it.

2) Hire a competent painter to duplicate the original and forget about the temporary embarrassment.

3) Leave it as it is now, the “botched restoration,” the “monkey face.”

The first two options seem to be out.  The organizer of the town’s patron festival is already happy about the new fame of Borja.  On the web, 18,000 people have signed a petition stating that the fresco should stay as it is now. A Facebook page, called “Señoras que restauran Cristos de Borja” has 38,874 fans and 58,048 followers (as of this writing), many of whom have created their own versions of the fresco. Here’s one, inspired by Rafael.  For more,  see https://www.facebook.com/SenorasQueRestauranCristosDeBorja

Let’s consider option #3.  The face as it is now is a confrontation with modernism.  The modern mind is rooted in the 17th century, when Leeuwenhoek first saw microbes through his microscope’s lens, Montaigne (a little earlier)  introspected and doubted, Descartes doubted himself to exhaustion and John Mill studied various translations of the Bible and said, whoa, we have 30,000 problems here. To name just a few of the people who showed us that things are not what they appear to be and that the mind makes stuff up.

Mrs. Giménez, in her mid-80’s, is now world famous.  She is notorious.  How could she do such a thing?  She’s apparently surprised at the results of her effort.  Is she crazy? Couldn’t she see what she was doing?  She may be asked to have her head examined and her introspection and free-associations would be interesting, but not as interesting as the FACT that we now have this image she made up.

That’s what’s important:  she made it up.  And another thing: the original fresco from 1910 by whatshisname was also made up.   Let’s see, what else can we name that’s been made up:  Michelangelo’s David, Michelangelo’s Adam, Rafael’s madonnas, Leonaro’s Last Supper;  Klimt’s Kiss, Munch’s Scream;   Egyptians invented Isis and Osiris, the Greeks invented Zeus and Athena, and so on and so forth.

The human imagination makes stuff up. You won’t find that statement anywhere in the 12th century.  The clerics who are ringing their hands over this fresco problem haven’t traveled through the 17th century to the beginning of the 20th, when Picasso and others blew the roof off our skulls.

When Picasso painted Gertrude Stein 1905 and 1906, she sat for him an estimated eighty-plus times.  Towards the end of 1906 he got stuck, dissatisfied with how he had painted the face.  We can only wish we had a documentation of that stage of the work. (We know Picasso owned a camera.)  In the fall of 1906 he went to Spain and when he came back he painted over the face. Giving into his fascination with African, Oceanic and early Iberian art, he now turned Gertrude’s face into a mask.  In other words, he invented.  He made it up.  We look at this painting at the Met and think it looks like Gertrude Stein—after all, that’s the title on the wall label—but at the same time we know IT’S ALL MADE UP.  It’s this awareness that makes us modern.

Picasso would have loved this “botched restoration.”

Sources:http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/24/world/europe/botched-restoration-of-ecce-homo-fresco-shocks-spain.html?hp

https://www.google.com/#q=Borja+Fresco+site:youtube.com&sa=X&ei=Gog_ULqbHI7W9QT_m4GgBg&ved=0CDsQ2wE&hl=en&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&fp=6c862fd85693d052&biw=1012&bih=589

http://www.spiegel.de/reise/europa/jesus-fresko-in-borja-stuemper-kunstwerk-zieht-hunderte-touristen-an-a-852168.htmlhttps://www.facebook.com/SenorasQueRestauranCristosDeBorja

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

www.khilden.com

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

In the penultimate caricature class we dealt with the profile.  Here’s my demo on that topic.

But the inevitable finale to a class in the art of caricature would have to be what?  Of course, you have to draw the teacher.

This caricature class, earlier this summer, met for only five two-hour sessions.  Make no mistake, this is a serious class. (You can find earlier posts on specific demos.)  One of the topics we kept coming back to is the psychology of the whole business.  Drawing women, for example.  Or drawing people you know, your family or your friends.  It gets complicated!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

——

My students (only three were present for the last class, hey, it’s summer) rose to the challenge.  It really does take courage to draw caricatures.

You can tell, that they got the lesson on eyelashes for women.

One student apparently saw my Cruella de Vil side. That’s fine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

———————————————————————————————–

When I caricatured myself about eighteen years ago, I also showed no mercy.  But then, for my business card, I had to go for a more show-biz look.  Did I mention…it’s complicated.

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

www.khilden.com

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

Read Full Post »

It must be about fifteen years ago that I read an article in National Geographic on Japanese aesthetic.  Just now  I found a reference to it online:  “Shibui: A Messenger of Peace in Nature, Humanity and Diplomacy” by Carol Miller.

Does not the sight of a single leaf, seen through a fence, capture your     breath? In this split second of perception and veneration, motion ceases and mindfulness increases. This moment awakens one to enlightenment and wisdom. This moment is shibui.

I don’t remember the text in that National Geo article but the image of that leaf sticking through a fence has stayed with me.  When I saw the image I didn’t have to be instructed about this “other culture’s “ sensibility. I was already acquainted with the term shibui. But this magazine picture triggered  a moment of recognition.  This was my sensibility and there was a word for it.

Writers like to say, they don’t know what they’re thinking until they write it.  Painters also don’t know what they feel until they have painted it.  Art making is not about premeditation but about recognition and discovery.

About four years ago I built a fence and a little seating enclosure at my side door.  A narrow planter box became part of the structure.  I needed it, actually, to strengthen the whole arrangement, since my carpentry skills are rather feeble.  But I planned it in such a way that the full blast of the annuals would be towards the street, to be seen by the public, while on the private side where the benches are, the inpatients would be peaking through the fence.  That sight is for me.  As I go in and out and muck about my daily chores, there’s a moment of recognition.

http://www.questia.com/read/1G1-167387917/shibui-a-messenger-of-peace-in-nature-humanity-and

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

www.khilden.com

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

Read Full Post »

Thanks for liki…

Thanks for liking my blog, http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

Read Full Post »

I’ve been wanting to write about shibui, the Japanese aesthetic of simple, subtle, and unobtrusive beauty.

But then this article about one of the, if not THE, highest paid artists in the world today comes up on my screen.  This is required reading for all of you who roll your eyes to the ceiling and blow raspberries when you cite Jeff Koons as what’s wrong with the art world today.

I Was Jeff Koons’s Studio Serf, by John Powers, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/19/magazine/i-was-jeff-koonss-studio-serf.html?hpw

Jeff Koons is represented by Gagosian, of course.  http://www.gagosian.com/exhibitions/october-02-2006–jeff-koons

If you are a fan of  Jeff Koons, please introduce yourself.

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

www.khilden.com

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

Read Full Post »

If you go back to post August 3, 2012 you’ll see the still life that Gaby was working from for this drawing.  There was a second wooden mannequin, this one reclining with all fours  reaching up, and also some plastic fruits, a pear and an apple.

This marvelous drawing emerged only after much struggle and daring invention.  The pear and apple, being in the foreground, were originally quite worked out with shadows and highlights. As the artist/student got more into the work, these objects lost their importance even though they were in the foreground.  Their literalness had to give way to the workings of the composition as a whole. They still read as foreground, the pear especially by virtue of its continuous, uninterrupted contour.  But the pear is now both foreground and a vacant space and that’s a wonderful paradox.

The background—the white and  the black—is pure invention. Notice that both non-referential surfaces have textures, to give them visual interest and make them, paradoxically, come forward.

The composition with its dramatically worked out values establishes layers: foreground, middleground, background and then far background. We’ve looked at foreground and background.  Now, what is that in the middle?  It seems to radiate from some point behind the pear-vacancy.  These three rays are  what the drawing seems to be about, for the simple reason that they invite identification more than any other element in the drawing.

Everyone in the class loved this drawing.  Everyone knew, of course, what Gaby had been looking at.  But the drawing is clearly not about identifiable objects.  It uses the pear and the wooden figure as a point of departure.  The drawing becomes a work of the imagination, a DRAWING.

Somebody said, it looks like an insect’s legs.  Well, yes, that will come up in your mind, but try clinging to that interpretation.  The drawing takes you far beyond that.

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

www.khilden.com

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

Read Full Post »

I’ve always been grateful to Haydn for inventing the symphony but have more often than not found his compositions a bit too tame.  Until last week, that is, when I heard his Four Seasons performed under Carlos Kalmar’s direction at Millennium Park.  At its 1801 premier in Vienna it was a success, but I can’t imagine that performance to have been as bold as the one we heard here in Chicago last week.

But back to visuals.

The woman at left was posing for a friend whose fumbling with a camera required multiple takes.  This gave me time to pull out my pocket Sony.  I immediately saw this composition and am showing the photo without later cropping or tweaking.  My take on the scene will never make it as a having-a-good- time-wish-you-were-here postcard, will it.  It’s funny, I hope that’s your reaction.  It also has a warmth that the left-right flip lacks.

The flip is also funny, but in a weird way.  Pessimistic, gloomy, just plain wrong.  If this had been the scene in front of me—and that’s entirely possible—it’s unlikely that I would have “seen” it and taken the shot.

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

www.khilden.com

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »