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Posts Tagged ‘style’

Yesterday was Rembrandt’s birthday.

André Malraux, in The Voices of Silence, talks about Rembrandt’s early work showing the influence of his teacher Pieter Lastmann. Here’s Rembrandt at the age of twenty.

RembrandtProphet Balaam
Malraux talks about the “fallacy of a ‘neutral style.’”
“Its origin is the idea that a living model can be copied without interpretation or any self-expression; actually no such literal copy has ever been made. Even in drawing this notion can be applied only to a small range of subjects: to a standing horse seen in profile, for instance, but not to a galloping horse. This theory owes much to the silhouette, and underlying it is the assumption that the basic neutral style would be a bare outline. But any such method, if strictly followed, would not lead to any form of art, but would stand in the same relation to drawing as an art as the commercial or official style of writing stands to literature.”
Here’s a work by Pieter Lastmann.

PieterLastmanHagar
Malraux continues: “A neutral style no more exists than does a neutral language; styleless pictures no more exist than do wordless thoughts. Thus the teaching of the plastic arts (apart from mere training of the hand) is nothing more than the teaching of the significant elements in a style or several styles (thus, in our own, perspective is one of these elements). Academic drawing is a rationalized style—what theosophy is to religions or Esperanto to a living tongue.… Though the life-stories of great painters show us pastiches as being the starting point of their art, none tells of a transition from the art school to genius without a conflict with some previous genius. Any more than the history of art can show us a style born directly from nature, and not from a conflict with another style.”

André Malraux, The Voices of Silence, 1953. Translated by Stuart Gilbert. p.316
Rembrandt van Rijn, 1606-1669
Pieter Lastman, 1583 – 1633

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