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Archive for the ‘Illustration’ Category

16ribbondrawg

So simple.  A wide, stiffly woven ribbon held up by some poles, the kind you’ll find in packages of blank  CD’s.  The ribbon is meandering through space, making hair-pin curves and casting lovely shadows. In reality it’s merely lovely.  In the drawing (the poles are omitted) the ribbon becomes animated, mysterious and sur-real.

16ribbon1

Here’s another angle. You can draw right now, from this image on your screen.

16ribbon2

We started class with this exercise.

16ribbon1a

Drawing by Maggy Shell, charcoal, ~ 14” x 18”.

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

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16septcharlstilllife

One of the reasons we draw from still lifes is that they are so forgiving.  A pot looks just as convincing whether you draw it fat or 16septlstilllifeskinny. Drapery can be pushed and pulled and ironed out.  This forgiveness leaves us free to experiment with the feeling of the drawing itself, feeling that comes from line quality, dynamics of light and dark, rhythm and composition.

Working from this pile of round forms and edges, the artist could have chosen to draw any passage in great detail.  He chose, instead, to draw the sweep of the whole arrangement.  It formed and arc.  As he drew from left to right, some aspects captivated him more than others and he shaded them for greater emphasis, time being 16septcharlstilllifearclimited, after all. Limited time is a good thing.  Because with more time, more details might have been filled in and we would have lost this lovely arc.  The drawing now has not only content, which anybody can get with due diligence, but also form, which comes out of a deeper crinkle of your brain. Tickling that crinkle is more than half the trick.

Charles Stern, graphite on paper, ~12” x 16”

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

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icongaragemoma

This garage is directly across the street from the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  Not knowing that Icon is the name of a NY garage chain, I thought it was a clever name for a MoMA garage. MoMA houses major “Icons of Modernism” and isn’t that an oxymoron.   I pictured the parking guys in blue Icon uniforms with their first names embroidered over the breast pockets discussing how Picasso, Braque and Matisse et al had been exerting themselves to produce images that negated all that iconic stuff they’d been brought up with and now, here in this MoMA building were their once outrageous paintings, all gaped at with touristy awe because, well, because now they’re Icons. One of the guys in this garage conversation about semiotics and art history likes to say, that deserves to be deconstructed.  Or so I imagined.

The word icon comes from the Greek, meaning image.  The term was first used for depictions of the central characters of Christian mythology that confronted the faithful with severe, staring authority.

iconpantokrator13cent

In the early Christian church there were opposing views on whether these images should even be allowed, since they posed the czestochowskatemptation for the faithful to fall into idolatry.  That idolatry won out is suggested by the fact that some of these old icons draw pilgrims to their site, as for example, the Black Madonna of Częstochowa, one of the national symbols of Poland. Such an image is commonly called “sacred icon.”

If you don’t get it, you’re not one of us.

 

That’s nice to know, you say, a little history never hurts, but we’re in the 21st and icons are about the internet. So you type in “icon” and you get a site, https://icons8.com/web-app/,  that gives you mouse-5033,600 icons including this, which you recognize instantly.

The communication is one-dimensional and unambiguous. Recognizing the icon puts you in the In-group. If you don’t get it, you’re not one of us.

Now back to the MoMA. This is Picasso’s Les demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907.  It’s called an “icon of modernism.”  The people standing around it have seen it in reproductions, but they’ve come here to be with it in person.

posingpicassoavignon2

Are they pilgrims. Is this a sacred site?

To be instantly recognizable is the same as to be famous. Did the tourists travel here to see something famous? By being with this famous object are they participating in its fame?  Is fame something intrinsic in that canvas and does fame radiate out so that those close by can absorb some of it?

If you don’t get it, you’re not one of us.

Maybe the designation “icon” does apply equally to the Byzantine deity, the mouse and the 1907 Picasso, the common denominator being fame, which separates the in-group from the out.

Funny how that boundary can shift.

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2014/12/23/les-demoiselles-davignon/

uffizitourists

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

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16MayLast2final

In an earlier painting, Untitled X, we saw the use of lines at the very edge of the painting, giving us a hint of framing.  Here, in Untitled XII, the frame idea comes through as if it were the key to interpreting this painting.

We’ve just looked at twelve works by this artist. I posted them in succession and with such haste in an attempt to simulate a gallery experience. When you see a solo show in a gallery you go from one piece to the next, you look close,  you stand way back, you circle around, and you go back to something you saw earlier. You try to get a feeling for how this artist’s mind and imagination work.

Notice that in Untitled XII the “frame” is not complete.  Not only is it conspicuously broken, but it waves in and out of the other elements.  Whereas in previous paintings, the crisp lines were placed on a field of undulating, bulging colors and we could talk about “background,” here background and foreground are interacting.  The “frame” is not separate from or placed on top of anything.  It is simply another element in the painting.

Think of a painting as a conversation. You, the viewer, are half of the conversation.  How you frame the conversation determines what you hear/see.

Magritte comes to mind.  His paintings, as all humor, rely on framing or Magritte-Time-Transfixed_360context.  Here the frame or context is a neat, bourgeois living room, which sets up certain expectations and assumptions. A model locomotive mounted into a fire place would be jarring enough, but a locomotive moving outward from a fireplace—notice the smoke—is beyond all your assumptions about what’s possible.  You can only take comfort from the realization that you are looking at a constructed image and not a real locomotive in a real fire place.  Small comfort! You immediately realize that you love looking at this and that this was Magritte’s intention. You’re trapped, looking at something that you don’t understand.  Sounds like the beginning of doubt and Cartesian introspection. Congratulations, you’re modern.

A Magritte painting has one joke in it.  Once you get it, it pretty much comes to rest.

In Boyer’s Untitled XII you may see a bird or a face, but only fleetingly.  The wit in a Boyer painting keeps ricocheting in your brain.

Painting by Bruce Hatton Boyer, oil on canvas, 40” x 30”

http://www.artic.edu/exhibition/magritte-mystery-ordinary-1926-1938

Rene Magritte, 1898-1967

Bruce Hatton Boyer is the author of:

The Solstice Cypher, 1979

The Natural History of the Field Museum: Exploring the Earth and its People, 1993

The Miniature Rooms: the Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago, 2004

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/08/25/black-dot-anthropocentrism/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/untitled-ii-stretch/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/untitled-iii-rack/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/untitled-iv-asperatus-clouds/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/untitled-v-blue-rectangle/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/untitled-vi-back-and-forth/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/08/30/untitled-vii/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/08/30/untitled-viii/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/08/30/untitled-ix/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/08/30/untitled-x/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/08/31/untitled-xi/

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

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16Jan14Formula

So much to look at.

Arrows pointing towards the middle, but only roughly because they don’t converge. Lines connecting things: a black line is trying to make sense and a yellow line is being vague about what it’s connecting.  In the “background,” curving shapes that appear to suggest oozing, thick, viscous invasions of other colors. And a river runs through it. All very fascinating.

But what about that formula?  It’s the formula you zoomed on first!  How do you react to the formula?  You don’t know what it represents or if it represents anything, but you assume it’s the key to interpreting the painting. It promises meaning.  Oh, please, give me meaning!

The formula was the last element to be added to the painting. It was not planned for.  It came as a whim.

What happens in your mind when you see writing (a word, a letter, a number, or a mathematical equation) in a painting?

The equation represents Avogadro’s number, meaning the number of atoms in one gram of hydrogen.

What a relief, you say.  Now I know what that writing means.

Does it give meaning to the painting?  Or does it simply remind you how desperate your mind is to see “meaning”?

Painting by Bruce Hatton Boyer, oil on canvas, 30” x 40”

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/08/25/black-dot-anthropocentrism/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/untitled-ii-stretch/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/untitled-iii-rack/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/untitled-iv-asperatus-clouds/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/untitled-v-blue-rectangle/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/untitled-vi-back-and-forth/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/08/30/untitled-vii/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/08/30/untitled-viii/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/08/30/untitled-ix/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/08/30/untitled-x/

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

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BowlStemware

In a still life drapery suggests all sorts of turbulence—if you’re in the mood to see it.  There’s nothing still about a still life even though you’re looking at a pile of pottery, stemware, plastic fruit and, of course, bulging cloth.  We’ve talked about that before:

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2012/12/25/still-life-a-misnomer/

In this post’s drawing, the artist/student selected a portion of the still life on the table that led to an exploding composition on the page.  In my analysis you can interpret the green lines as either emanating from a central point (explosive) or you can see them as converging implosively.  You can shift your view back and forth between the two ways of seeing.  Either way, it’s a trip!

BowlStemwareLines

Whether you see those lines as centripetal or centrifugal, the focal point is nothing.  It’s a little triangular black part of the background, a vacancy.  If the lines had been made to converge on a  thing, the drawing would feel like an illustration or a picture with a message.  It would belong to the 18th century or before, at least in Western Art.  But the fact that the convergence is on emptiness makes this a modern drawing. The lines converge on that little nothing, but because it’s nothing, it lets you go again.  And so your eye–your attention–moves all through the image.  That’s the modern sensibility: you have to pay attention to everything. It’s a real trip, man.

For a reference to Diebenkorn and the Parthenon, go back to https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2015/09/03/let-it-be/

Drawing in china marker on gloss paper, ~ 11 x 17,  by Lizzy Mendoza.

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ElainedeKooningBullfight

Elaine de Kooning, Bullfight, 1959. Oil on canvas, 77-5/8 x 131-1/4

Paintings have to be named.  Bullfight?  OK, Bullfight.  But you should not imagine that Elaine de Kooning started with the intention to illustrate the idea of “bullfight.”  Rather, she slashed paint onto this enormous canvas and at some point stood back and said, that’s it, it’s resolved.  Only then did the title come about.  Maybe somebody else suggested it.

http://denverartmuseum.org/exhibitions/women-abstract-expressionism

This must be a powerful exhibit. It will be at the Denver Art Museum until September 25th.

After the DAM, the exhibition will travel to the Mint Museum, Charlotte, in October 2016 and the Palm Springs Art Museum in February 2017.

Unfortunately we won’t see this work in Chicago.  But surely, “Women of Abstract Expressionism” is worth an excursion.  Time to consult flight schedules.

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

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MondrianTree6

Oh, trees!

If you’re a Mondrian-lover you stand in front of one of his paintings, like the one above, and exclaim, “I just love the way he painted trees!”  Right?

You have a friend who doesn’t understand Mondrian, so you volunteer to give her a tour of the moderns at the Art Institute of Chicago or the MoMa.  You position yourselves in front of the Mondrians, and you learnedly explain that here we have the essence of tree-ness.  Right?

Mondrian was painting simplified trees.  Right?

Mondrian drew diagrams of trees. Right?

Abstract trees. Right?

Oh, please!

No one has ever looked at a Mondrian and seen trees. Right?

Right!!!!!

Then why do we constantly get the evolution of his paintings—The Mondrians—from trees.

http://emptyeasel.com/2007/04/17/piet-mondrian-the-evolution-of-pure-abstract-paintings/

MondrianTree1

[The] process of simplification and reduction would continue until he wasn’t even painting from nature at all.

The rise of Cubism also gave Mondrian a means to segment and reduce objects to their most basic forms.

MondrianTree2

Dutch painter Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) lived in Paris when he was in his early 40’s.  There he met Braque and other Cubists.

To interpret Cubism as “reducing objects to their most basic forms”  is as blatantly ridiculous as the other cliché about cubism, namely that a cubist painting shows us an object from all four sides.  I’ll post just one example here, Picasso’s “Portrait of D.H. Kahnweiler,” 1910. Have a good look. You are seeing Mr. Kahnweiler’s “basic forms” and you’re seeing him from all “four sides.” Correct?

kahnweil

Really?

LOOK!

Cubism is so scary to think about that people, even otherwise intelligent people, repeat these absurdities about “basic forms” and “four sides.”  You’ll find this sort of thing not only on internet pages but, with more academic circumlocutions, in serious publications. The Cubists—Picasso and Braque–are scary to think about because they made a clean break with the past.  Naughty, naughty. Thou shalt honor thy father and mother…  The only father the Cubists honored was Cézanne and he, in Robert Hughes’ words, painted DOUBT.

Let’s see now, we don’t have any commandments honoring doubt.

In 1910, art that threw out all previous assumptions was difficult to take.  Still is.  But doubt is so much more invigorating than having answers without first having questions.  Medieval certainties and Renaissance illustrations of mythological characters are not invigorating, are they?!

The Cubists—and they didn’t call themselves that—came up with something new.  The painting is now not an illustration but a work in its own right.

You must be kidding?  In its own right?  The audacity!

That’s right.  Audacity.

So, are Mondrian’s paintings abstractions or essences or diagrams of trees?  No.  They are something completely new.  They stand in their own right as objects.  Something to contemplate.

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TreesNot

One of the painters in my “What Would Mondrian Do?” group often brings photos of flowers and trees to class to kick off a painting session.

Keven Wilder is an accomplished painter.  The collectors of her work eagerly follow her latest output. The reception of this painting has been enthusiastic.

I’m glad.  I find the enthusiastic response of non-representational art very encouraging.  It’s a measure of progress in human consciousness, I think, not to be tied to the literal.

Nobody looks at this painting and says, “Oh, yes, trees. I see the blue sky and the vertical tree trunks and the horizontal branches.”

People who love this painting love it even after they find out that the artist started with a photo of trees against a clear sky.  They don’t get hung up on trees.  Sorry there.

People who love this painting love its color, shapes, texture, process, surprises.  It’s not an illustration, abstraction or diagram of anything.  It’s an object in itself.

An object of contemplation.

Keven Wilder showed this painting at the Ethical Humanist Society earlier this year.

Thank you, Keven!

http://ethicalhuman.org/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/07/05/exhibit-at-ethical-humanist-society/

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16Jan
This drawing is a dramatic departure from the literal. The artist happily gives up illustration and instead moves into a play on form. Such a venture calls for omissions: you don’t have to draw everything that’s in that pile of stuff, you pick and choose as you go with the call of the composition emerging on your page. Notice how this page teases you out of your prosaic, fact-loving mind and leads you into the pleasure of pure form.
16JanNumbersIf there had been more stripes, they would have nailed you down in the simple association to hey-that’s- a-tablecloth. Instead, the artist skips the literalness of the tablecloth and picks just three stripes (1) which lead you to the little pot (2) that plays second fiddle to the grand pitcher (4). The pitcher, however is also underplayed, it’s incomplete, but you know everything you need to know about it: look at that superb curved handle. Then, to balance the composition on the right we have nothing but a line. But what a line. So elegant, it hold its own against all that drama at (1) and (2).
16Jan Crop2The class debated whether the drawing should be cropped and considered this version. The question was left open.
Drawing by Linné Dosé. Graphite, 14”x16”
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