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Posts Tagged ‘Nautilus’

The composition in this drawing is pure delight.  The artist saw the cropping before he started drawing.  There was no deleting, erasing or blocking. Before he started to draw, he took a few minutes to contemplate this pile of stuff I had arranged on the table.  There must have been ten thousand ways to approach this.  Instead of zeroing in on specific objects, he saw this compositional shape, a diamond shape, and let everything else go.

How do you do this?  Well, you have to have a really good day to be able to concentrate like that.

I can’t explain how Linné did this, but let me guess how he came up with the line on the left that chops off a part of that red and blue paper mask. It seems to come from the drapery (1).  He “saw” the line of the drapery as extended downward through the mask.

On the right, instead of thinking “chair” he saw shape.  And the shape is whimsical. The chair was the biggest thing in the still life, but he didn’t see it literally. A triumph of the imagination.  In the drawing, we don’t know what those two scroll-y things represent  (2)  and that’s good, because we don’t get stuck on “chairness.”

Notice that instead of drawing the vertical wood of the chair straight as it is, he curves it. (4)  This mirrors the contour on the left, the drapery-mask line, and completes the diamond shape. The diamond shape of the overall composition is echoed in the wooden  serving dish with pedestal.(3) He plays this visual echoing game throughout the drawing, with the diamond and with other motifs. It’s like poetry that holds your attention with rhymes and a compelling meter.

The two incomplete chair slats on the right (2) break the severity of the diamond’s symmetry.  The carving on the wood echoes  the Nautilus spiral on the sea shell, an entrancing form that, while anchored to the geometry of the diamond composition,  spins us to infinity.

An analysis like this is not what art is about.  Nor am I saying that the artist worked all this out ahead of time.  But I think that a piece like this comes about when the artist is truly looking.  The relationships between these various elements is perceived but probably not verbalized and the choices are not conscious but are seen as necessary and right.  I offer the analysis only as a way of pointing to an entrance.

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