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Showing posts from October, 2006
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More views out the office window. I did 50 or 60 of these over the course of a year.
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WHATCHA GOT UNDER THAT TATTERED COAT?

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[This is not my last digression into the difference between illustration and abstract art. It is probably not even my second to last digression. But take heart, because the end is definitely in sight.]
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The inspiration behind abstract art was bold and brilliant. As Holland Cotter wrote about the invention of cubism: The day of pure optical pleasure was over; art had to be approached with caution and figured out. It wasn't organic, beneficent, transporting. It was a thing of cracks and sutures, odors and stings, like life. It wasn't a balm; it was an eruption. It didn't ease your path; it tripped you up.
The problem is, once artists cast off the shackles of the old standards, there was no consensus on new standards by which to determine quality. By 1918, the Russian painter Malevich, seeking the ultimate essence of painting, produced an all white canvas:




Fifty years later, the American painter Reinhardt improved on Malevich by unveiling…
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View from my office window, different times, different days.
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MORE ABOUT ABSTRACTION

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A few of you have wondered just what the heck I was yodeling about in my last posting on abstract art.

Let's start by acknowledging that abstract art is outside the scope of this blog and outside the scope of my competence. However, I do like some abstract art. If you're willing to take a stroll with an uneducated man into a complex field, we may discover some interesting things together.

In my view, much of today's fine art scene is self-indulgent nonsense. The Museum of Modern Art in New York contains some great works of art, but the ratio of money to talent there is downright asphyxiating. Dollar for dollar, the art at the Society of Illustrators a few blocks away has more nutritional content. But there is no clear dividing line between art that illustrates a message or idea on the one hand and abstract art on the other. Here are some splendid illustrations that are not very different from the abstract paintings in my last posting:



Illustration of the descent of the divine…

ART TO MAKE YOU YODEL

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My numerous unkind remarks about modern art have led some to conclude that I am opposed to all such art. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am opposed to bad art, and it is easier for bad art to hide amongst contemporary art than amongst art that requires talent or skill. But I love lots of modern art. Here are some of my favorites. These almost set me to yodeling:













credits: the art above is by, in order, Gottlieb, Miro, Motherwell, Miro, Dubuffet, Goldsworthy

ONE LOVELY DRAWING, part eight

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This lovely little drawing by Robert Fawcett appeared in Look Magazine in the 1960s. It was just a spot illustration, about 2 inches across. It is not likely to be reproduced ever again.

In the 1960s, illustration went wild. Innovators used psychedelic colors and bold new styles to create increasingly abstract work. Representational art was declared obsolete. Fawcett, who was trained in a rigorous traditional style, remained unperturbed. In fact, he was amused by the "misconception that abstract qualities are new to contemporary painting, whereas they have been the comparision of excellence since painting began."




Today, all those daring 1960s illustrations with the LSD-inspired paisley designs seem quaint and dated. But if you revisit this tiny little drawing by Fawcett, you will see art that is wild in a more lasting, meaningful sense.



Fawcett often drew conventional subjects using conventional media. He was known for scenes of cultured people in English libraries. But don…

A HERO'S ROLE AWAITS THE RIGHT ARTIST

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At the start of the 20th century, artists and designers were excited by the prospect of a new era filled with miraculous inventions such as telephones and cars. Science promised a world where humans could begin to create their own environment. But artists with vision recognized that there was also a danger: a man-made world could easily devolve into an industrial wasteland of purely functional objects unless artists were up to the task of creating new designs and forms suited for the machine age. Only designers could preserve beauty in an era when industrialization and mass production began to replace nature. Perhaps the greatest visionary of this period was Peter Behrens, an illustrator for the magazine Jugend, as well as a designer, architect, typographer, teacher and author. He has been called "the first industrial designer."





Behrens designed buildings, stationery, electrical appliances, silverware, typefaces, furniture and environments. He served as the design advisor to …
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More reference for the drawing class. These are done with B and 3B Ritmo charcoal pencils and Carbothello white pencils on Strathmore charcoal paper.
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