Posts Tagged ‘Modern art’


As some of you know, I recently moved to Indianapolis.  I am now happy to let everyone know that I have recently started a drawing class in nearby Columbus, In.  Columbus is famous for its world class modern architecture with a tourism center kept busy by an international crowd lining up to see those eighty (!!) famous buildings.  This city of 47,000 has a branch of Indiana University but it did not offer a drawing class for the public until—tatah!—I jumped in to fill that vital void.

Our Columbus drawing class meets in the library–designed by I.M. Pei.  The class, called “Drawing as Seeing,” has met only four times so far.  I’ll start by showing the work done in our third class. Ready?

Our topic was “Markmaking,” which is a scribble/shading technique that is as individual and unique as your thumb print.  After a brief demo with students looking over my shoulder, I sent everybody to their seats with a Xerox copy of Thomas Gainsborough’s masterful drawing called “Landscape with Horsemen.”  You can see it at the top of this post.

What happened in class was highly rewarding and led to the discussion of an important topic:  “incompletion” in a work of art.


The time allotted for this exercise was only an hour and that proved to be an advantage because it meant that students had to leave with their drawings incomplete.


I held up all the drawings and introduced the idea of Incompletion as a topic in modern art.  I suggested that it’s precisely because these drawings are incomplete that they are so engaging.


Incompletion in a work of art reaches us with evocative power. It engages us—paradoxically, perhaps—more than an image that’s carefully worked out in every detail.


The next drawing was done by a left-handed student.  I had copied him a mirror image of the original Gainsborough to work from because the left hand moves in a different radius than the right hand.


I reminded students that they had the option of leaving the drawing as is, “incomplete,” or doing more work on it at home.


In the next class, this teacher was gratified that none of the students had “completed” the drawing.  Every student seems to have gotten the modern bug.

We will get back to this Topic of Incompletion many more times.

We are off to a promising start!

Thomas Gainsborough, 1727-1788  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Gainsborough

Columbus, Indiana https://columbus.in.us/architecture-story/

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





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Charles Jencks’ book on Post-Modernism was at 700 JE on the library shelf. What a relief, I had to refresh my memory on what he says about Pruitt-Igoe.  But at 700 HO, right next to Jencks, was “Art for Dummies.”  I pulled it off the shelf, hoping to find something to chuckle over after a week of overworking myself.  Hoving!  They got Thomas Hoving to contribute to the For Dummies series?!  I opened the book at random and there on p. 173 under the heading “Is Modern Art Something of a Joke?” I found this wonderful paragraph:

“Modern art is, admittedly, rash, confusing, prone to making one suspect that it’s all a joke, annoying at times, and forever puzzling as to meaning and significance.  Yet, much of it possesses a power and an elegance equal to the greatest earlier movements and styles in Western art.  The real gift of Modern art is that it allowed artists, if they wanted, to go far beyond the rather restricted practice of copying a subject faithfully.  Pure energy could be expressed.  So could mysterious emotion.  It takes dedication and lots of work to come to grips with Modern art, but when you have saturated yourself in it, you will, in time, appreciate the explosive genius of Picasso and the infinite calm and serenity of its most illustrious master, who is, in my opinion Henri Matisse.  He once observed that he wanted to create an art that might be so comforting that tired businessmen would readily turn to it for solace.  Once you gaze at his triumphant Red Studio or Luxe, Calme et Volupté, in New York’s Museum of Modern Art, you’ll see that he succeeded.”

I took it to the circulation desk and checked it out along with the architecture books.  In his Art for Dummies book Hoving inserts some cartoons by Rich Tennant—something to chuckle over, after all.


Henri Matiss,  Red Studio, 1911

Henru Matisse, Luxe, Calme et Volupté, 1904

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





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