the horror, the horror

Below is a video which shows how NOT to draw. In it is one of the most depressing developments I’ve seen in painting in a long time.

Please, I beg of  any artist reading this, never ever sit and hold your drawing implement like this person and never ever confuse what this man is doing with drawing. It is called copying.  Copying is not drawing. Copying and drawing are mutually exclusive. If you are obsessed by learning to copy you will eventually destroy your ability to do anything BUT copy.

I understand the urge in this chaotic thing that is making art the comfort one can find in sitting down with a structure and copying, knowing that if you’re diligent you can go through all the steps and reach nirvana. The perfect, lifelike image with all the tones in perfect relation to one another.

Perfection, right? But think about it. What if every single artist were learning to draw just like this… each one making a perfect copy. Artist after artist, each one making a perfect copy. Galleries filled with perfect copies of perfect models by perfectly rigid people in perfectly organized studios …. and those little boxes…little boxes…little boxes… made of ticky tacky and they all live in those boxes and they all look just the same.

I’m exaggerating (slightly) for sake of effect. You may do some academic drawing. I myself  have done so…. shudder. It’s actually very relaxing, particularly the days long version. Like drifting into deep meditation. But break away from it. Like Picasso, like De Kooning, like Beckmann,  van Gogh, break away fast. Not having it is no hindrance to painting. Drawing is central. But look at real Old Master drawing, like Rembrandt, Poussin, Pontormo, Tintoretto. Note the energy, the dynamic movement. The extraordinary looseness and flow and freedom. The dance. The sense of the body moving with the mind. The marks as marks in their own right, idiosyncratic, suggestive of form–not making everything obvious and filled in so that the eye can’t move along with the mind.

The mind grows dull looking at academic realism, just as it does at photo realism. There is nothing erotic, which is present in all the great masterpieces. The enthusiastic embrace of life lived. Look at Picasso!

About trueoutsider

I'm an artist.
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2 Responses to the horror, the horror

  1. You can’t deny it’s a skillful thing, though. If this artist wishes to practice old ways, he’s fine to do that. I think, though, the options are most important when you’re practicing art. It wouldn’t hurt to have the knowledge and experience of the old masters, even if you’re trying to make something new.

  2. trueoutsider says:

    I’m glad to see Jacob’s work and I actually like it. What’s not to like? But I don’t love it by a long shot. I completely agree that it’s fine for him to do that. The thing I was trying to get at s that the Academic approach to drawing, particularly for young artists, carries real dangers. The greatest one is that the student will get locked into certain ways of conveying a three-dimensional illusion. Those ways of conveying illusion are easily learned, although it certainly takes a lot of application and study. But at the end of the day there’s very little “artist” left and what you have is a highly skilled technician.

    Collins, in the article by Gopnik, makes disparaging remarks about Manet. This is the kind of arrogance and smugness that creeps in with artists able to make highly skilled illusions. Manet’s paintings come directly out of life along with the feeling and pulse of real life, which is why they still strike (most) of us so forcefully. The same with Courbet and on down the list. Whereas Gerome and Bouguereau, for their vast skill, today strike us as stagey and canned. That’s because they were stagey and canned. I don’t mind Collins disparaging great artists. It’s his loss. But imitating Collins is going to be an enormous loss for the young artists who instead of engaging with lived life confine themselves to the atelier boundaries and follow this kind of “by the rules” instruction.

    Parenthetically, I’d draw attention to the fact that 36 of Nerdrum’s paintings have fallen apart. I’ve always like Nerdrum’s work more than the Academic Realist work that Collins represents. And the fact that his paintings have fallen apart is to me a good thing and is what makes his work so original and interesting. He’s experimenting and pushing his vision. That’s the case with other realist artists whose work I also like (not the paintings falling apart, but them pushing at an original vision). I’m not at all against realism. I’m all for it. Look at Courbet! I’m suggesting a realism that is moved by a deep and continuous engagement with life and observed movement. Check out Joaquin Sorolla.—now we’re talking.

    To me, the thing I look for in painting is deep emotion. Academic painting is devoted to restraining the emotions in favor of detached observation and technical perfection, and that goes for all Minimalism, Op, Pop, Photo-Realism, Conceptual painting etc, which instead of detached observation is based on detached theorizing. It’s extremely banal and boring painting because the artists aren’t tapped into any feeling. I’m going to do a post on this now that I’ve gotten down to this point and I’m recalling a conversation between Louis Aragon and Jean Cocteau referencing Dali that sheds a lot of light on this subject…. Excuse my running on so much! .

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