Saturday, August 28, 2010

GEORGE BRIDGMAN'S ART CLASS



These are original student drawings from the 1911 class of the famous art teacher, George Bridgman.



Bridgman, constantly inebriated and chewing on a large black cigar, would rail at his students about the importance of mastering anatomy: "Don't think color's going to do you any good. Or lovely compositions. You can't paint a house until it's built." His students adored him and vied for his approval.



Some of the students in this class would grow up to be stars, such as Norman Rockwell, Mclelland Barclay or E.F. Ward. But in 1911 they were still ambitious teenagers dreaming of the future and striving to develop the kind of academic drawing skill that many illustrators today consider irrelevant.

The crowded classroom was warmed by the stench of tobacco, charcoal, perspiration and turpentine.













Many of the models were girls who had come to the city to work in department stores during a peak holiday season and were laid off after the holidays.  Desperate for money, they would apply for modeling work but once in the classroom some couldn't bring themselves to take their clothes off. Sometimes a young woman would attempt to pose in her slip and stockings, but she would be asked to leave. Recalled one of Bridgman's students, "she'd begin to cry and say she needed the money and what was she going to do."










These girls and their personal anguish are now just ghosts on crumbling paper.  All that remains of them are the images that shamed them.




Bridgman was a highly critical taskmaster, teaching as he did before our era of false praise. At the end of each class, he would designate one student's work as number 1. (You can still see Bridgman's notation, "1st" on E.F. Ward's drawing of the man's back, above.) But Norman Rockwell recalled a story that Bridgman would tell the class whenever he sensed that students were getting cocky about their grades:
Boys, a queer thing happened to me after I left the class last Tuesday. There was a coal wagon backed up onto the sidewalk on 48th street shooting coal into a cellar. As I passed by a fellow stuck his head, all begrimed with coal, out of the cellar and said "hello Mr. Bridgman." I said, "why hello there who are you?" Oh, the fellow said, don't you remember me? I was number one in your class last year.... The story varied; sometimes it was an iceman or a voice from a manhole.

144 Comments:

Blogger Ocean Quigley said...

Wow, what wonderful life drawings! They're outstanding not just for students, but really, for any artist. Where did you find them? Are there higher resolution versions around?

When I think back to my teachers, I'm envious of art students who got to study with people of Bridgeman's caliber.

Thanks!
Ocean

8/28/2010 11:16 PM  
Blogger jake gumbleton said...

amazing post!! Thanks for sharing :)

8/29/2010 5:59 AM  
Blogger SCIBOTIC said...

Do you mean "Bridgman" not "Bridgeman"? Otherwise, nice post.

8/29/2010 6:17 AM  
OpenID snoringdogstudio said...

Enjoyed this post and learning about the man behind the craft. It is a craft, great draftsmanship, one that is being sidestepped in favor of Illustrator and Photoshop effects. But you can always, always tell when someone never learned to draw. One dead giveaway - hands and feet are hidden behind swords and demons.

8/29/2010 8:27 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Ocean-- thanks. I had a few technical difficulties that kept me from posting higher resolution images at first but I have now fixed that for most of the images. I am also going to try taking photos of the entire page. Right now all you are seeing is what would fit on my scanner.

Jake-- Thanks for writing, I appreciate it.

SCIBOTIC--you have put your finger on a real mystery. My copy of Bridgman's Constructive Anatomy spells it "Bridgman" without the "e" but if you go back to Rockwell's "My Adventures as an Illustrator" (where some of these quotes come from) the name is spelled "Bridgeman" and on the backs and margins of some of these drawings it is written "Bridgeman" as well. I didn't feel comfortable correcting the spelling from direct quotes and contemporaneous documents, but I admit it's confusing the way it is now. Does anybody out there have an answer?

8/29/2010 8:46 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

snoringdogstudio-- I agree with you about artists and feet. Most of these drawings devoted time and attention to the face, and did a pretty decent job with the hands, but by the time they got down to the feet, they simply indicated them with a few lines.

Having said that, there are lots of drawings of plaster casts of feet from every angle and I must say they are technically impeccable. I didn't post them here because I thought they would put everyone to sleep. (Talk about "skill that many illustrators today consider irrelevant...")

8/29/2010 8:54 AM  
Anonymous http://snoringdogstudio.wordpress.com said...

When I was first learning how to paint figures in watercolor, I spent hours staring at the work of the best out there. The thing about my favorite watercolor artists and ones I consider to be truly masters, they can only "indicate" feet and hands if they understand the underlying anatomy. Only then do the shadows and the shading and the color modeling get put in the right place. It's funny - I looked again at my faves this morning: Arne Westerman, WB Lawrence, Alex Powers,and Charles Reid - they all draw extraordinarily well - but in one of my Reid books, he has chapters on how to draw the head, eye, nose, mouth, ear, hand, but no chapter on how to draw the foot.

8/29/2010 10:28 AM  
Blogger Charles Valsechi III said...

I think you would find many students striving to be illustrators very interested in learning what Bridgeman has to teach. Sadly this is hard information to come by in the Illustration world. It seems to me that to learn most of what the great illustrators knew and were taught requires jumping many art fences.

8/29/2010 10:40 AM  
Blogger Vincent Nappi said...

you're right Charles. and the quality of the educators just isn't there for the most part in this day and age.

meanwhile you go back far enough and things like being able to draw what you see fairly accurately, and being able to mix color, perspective, etc., were just the baseline skills required by even the most mediocre guys and girls out there. anything on top of that was just gravy.

then again, there are two sides to that coin because there are plenty of guys out there who do amazing work and they didn't go through that rigorous academic training. that would include most of the young guys at the top of the field today.

I don't really know that there are any right or wrong answers for this whole deal.

8/29/2010 12:16 PM  
Anonymous Kyle said...

Just analyse the basic forms of the feet and then draw them.It ain't rocket science.

8/29/2010 3:21 PM  
Blogger T Arthur Smith said...

Hey, I just spent the afternoon reading through this blog, and greatly enjoying it. Thank you for all the stories, art, and hard work! I was looking through the Leonard Starr and I wondered if you've ever heard of Tyler Crook? He goes by superskoda, over on conceptart.org and he's got a wonderful, similar brush style. Let me find a link: http://www.conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=120146

8/29/2010 3:26 PM  
Blogger william wray said...

Visiting NY last week, I stopped by the Art Students League and noticed a drawing collection the featured past instructors and Bridgemam's students, I was disapointed not to find any of his drawings in the book so I didn't buy it. I did take a sketch class for the first time (there) in 25 years. Has not changes there at all Memories.

8/29/2010 4:16 PM  
Blogger अर्जुन said...

""Some of the students in this class would grow up to be stars, such as Norman Rockwell, Mclelland Barclay or E.F. Ward.""

No love for Loomis? Unbelievable!

8/29/2010 5:27 PM  
Blogger अर्जुन said...

T A SMITH said…"Leonard Starr"

~In 1953, with 10 years of making a good living as a comic book artist, but frustrated by his lack of real improvement, Starr was advised by Dean Cornwell to return to art school and take night courses at the Art Students' League under the legendary Frank Reilly, the principal life drawing instructor at the school when George Bridgeman retired and a Cornwell-from-Dunn-from-Pyle disciple.  Reilly was a major factor in producing a horde of great illustrators, among the better known Cooper Studio Girl Art pros Joseph Bowler and Ernest Chiriaka and many superb cover artists of the Trash Paperback era the likes of Robert Mcguire, Walter Popp, James Bama, Stan Borack, Lou Marchetti, Rudy Nappi, and Vern Tossey.  

If Starr has frequently dismissed his early art education as worthless for 30 years, he is equally adamant that Reilly, who died in 1967, was the best teacher he ever had, claiming "He [Reilly] gave you the meat and potatoes, and there wasn't a single day that I didn't learn at least 10 things.  I had gaps in my knowledge, and during 6 months of evening study with him, the gaps began to fill up~

8/29/2010 5:33 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Does Bridgman's mannered, conceptual-style drawing (I am not being pejorative here) found in his instructional books represent his normal style? I am a little surprised to see such a strong academic realism flavor in his student's work.

8/29/2010 6:04 PM  
Blogger The Window Keeper said...

@SCIBOTIC and David Apatoff: From what I found, it is, in fact "Bridgman." It is possible that the copy editor thought that the lack of an "E" was a typo, and added it in.

On the hands and feet topic, though, one of the pass or fail sections in my life drawing class was that we had to draw our own hands and feet. We could not go on until we did it. For the most part, it paid off, too. A lot of body language can be conveyed through the hands, as well as the placement of the feet. It's a shame that a lot of artists today don't realize it.

8/29/2010 8:41 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Scibotioc and Window keeper: I agree, the majority of sources spell the name as you suggest, "Bridgman."

It's unlikely the "e" in Rockwell's autobiography was a mere typo, as the book was a best seller with multiple printings and translations and was serialized in the Post. Even if it was a typo, that hardly accounts for the student drawings that spell the name with an "e." Some web sites spell it with an "e" though many of them seem to have taken that spelling from Rockwell.

I can't explain the difference, but to make this post easier for people to find, I am going to change the spelling to remove the "e."

8/29/2010 11:03 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

अर्जुन wrote: "no love for Loomis?"

अर्जुन, I know that Loomis and other greats took Bridgman's class as well, but I don't know what years they studied. The artists I mentioned were all in the same class together, the famous class of 1911-1912.

8/29/2010 11:18 PM  
Anonymous Adam Brill said...

David, re. the issue of whether to E, or not to E in Bridgman's name: Regardless of what is printed on the back of his student's studies, and what Norman Rockwell has to say about it, my money is on him being able to spell his own name, which he spells, repeatedly, as Bridgman, in my tattered 5th printing of Bridgman's Life Drawing, from 1943.

8/30/2010 11:27 AM  
Anonymous Myron Macklin said...

Loved this post. Bridgeman's "Complete Guide to Drawing from Life" I found in college, was the first art book I actually read. His lessons about how to think about anatomy and the human form, help changed they way I thought about drawing. It should be essential reading for art students.

Now I when I look at my own work as well as the work of others, I use my Bridgeman “X-ray vision” to look and see if the anatomy is working under the coats, clothes and skin. Even in wonky or weird art, you can tell when they know their ish or not.

8/30/2010 11:44 AM  
Anonymous MORAN said...

It's ironic that these models were ashamed to be seen in the nude and their nudity is all that's left of them. You've put it all over the internet for the world to see, but they probably don't care by now.

8/30/2010 12:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great topic and great responses. I, too, had one of Bridgeman's (and Loomis') books when I was a youngster...man, I wish I had them now.

I especially liked your comment, David, about 'these times of false praise...' In general, and in the art education world in particular...god forbid you should tell someone they should think of another avocation or at least just try harder. Many of my fellow students at SCAD were just incredible artists...and there were a few that were lazy or just there because (I guess) their parents could afford to indulge their child's whims. And though there were a few instructors that told it like it was, way too many seemed too worried that they would lose a student (and the school lose the money) if they told the truth.

Anyway, great subject matter yet again.

Oh, and to the person that mentioned Bowler...he lives close to Savannah, up in Hilton Head, and we got to go watch him work, talk to him, etc, as part of an Illustration department trip.

Ken Meyer Jr.

8/30/2010 8:42 PM  
Blogger Ray said...

Ken,

I had a similar experience in my fine arts program at IU. I remember telling one of my professors before our senior exhibition that I was embarrassed for and because one of the students who horrible work was being hung with the rest of ours. It reflected badly on the student and the program that this person was allowed to graduate and exhibit. I told the prof. that I know the school wants the money, but someone should have told this person two years before to change majors. He just smiled a smile of agreement—he didn't verbally admit it since that obviously would have put him in a bad position.

8/31/2010 10:22 AM  
Anonymous Chad said...

Was this mainly a portrait class? Because much of the emphasis seems to be on facial structure and tight rendering of the head.The nudity seems almost unnecessary.Like sitting in a passport photo booth naked from the neck down.

8/31/2010 4:32 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Kyle, I think feet suffer from lack of attention (they are usually an afterthought in pictures unless you're George Petty) as well as from the fact that they are more difficult to draw than many other parts of the body.

Charles and Vincent-- that rigorous academic training can be a thing of beauty in and of itself, but it may be less essential to professional success these days.

T A Smith-- thanks for writing, and for the link.

Bill Wray-- I'm kinda glad to hear that the place hasn't changed in 25 years.

Adam Brill-- I have the same early, tattered Bridgman book which I inherited from my father. It's a beautiful edition.

Myron, Rockwell's book has some interesting things to say about Bridgman's "x-ray vision." He used to irk the models by drawing their muscle or bone structure right on top of their skin while they posed.

9/01/2010 1:53 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

MORAN-- We don't get to pick what we're remembered for, and what we leave behind, so you'd better watch your step!

Ken Meyer Jr.-- I'm glad Joe Bowler is still around and working. I envy the time you spent with him.

9/01/2010 2:17 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Ray, that kind of self deception lasts until graduation.

Chad, most of these drawings were full figure drawings, although the students clearly devoted more time and attention to heads and upper torsos than the lower part of the body. Not clear why. I did not have a convenient way to capture the full image. There are also a number of faster sketches.

9/01/2010 2:28 AM  
Blogger Ray said...

David said, "Ray, that kind of self deception lasts until graduation."

I agree. However, the problem is that by that time, it's too late in some respects. Students have forked out large sums of money with very little to show for it when they could have applied it toward something that could have made them a living. I regard not being honest with students in this way as a misuse of their position. A professor is there to guide and instruct. Sometimes that guidance includes, "You probably don't belong here if your intent is something more than a hobby."

9/01/2010 10:23 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

David said -- "Ray, that kind of self deception lasts until graduation."

I think it is wishful thinking to imagine that that sort of self deception ends after graduation. In my experience that self deception usually lasts in some form or another for years (decades even) after the students leave the program -- this probably has to do with our culture's insistence that art can't be good or bad, merely personal or commercial.


Ray said, "I agree. However, the problem is that by that time, it's too late in some respects."

Why should it be too late? Do you hold that these people couldn't learn the skills afterwards despite having wasted thousands of dollars?

He went on to say, "A professor is there to guide and instruct."

But with the quality of art professors these days is any surprise their instruction and guidance doesn't go much farther than "More feeling!" "More color!"?

And, "You probably don't belong here if your intent is something more than a hobby."

Isn't some, even poor, art education better than none where circumstances are limiting? I was enrolled in a god awful Fine Arts program for a semester, and if nothing else it showed me that art was something I was going to have figure out for my own damned self until I can find a worthwhile mentor. The awful experience also drove very clearly home all the sort of different destructive mentalities I ought to avoid on the path to mastery.

9/01/2010 1:01 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Richard,

You make some valid points, but if you pay ten thousand dollars or more for an education in a particular field, in this case Art, the expectation would be that you are getting professional training. Not the training of a hobbyist.

But, since the destruction of art training with the rise of modernism, art teaching is mostly a job for a hobbyist who is otherwise unemployable - b carman, not included :) - and what can a hobbyist teach of art except how to keep it a hobby? (The flip side is the professional artist who can use a few easy bucks here and there... given that art is the most exhausting sort of labor and can wear out even the most robust among us.)

Your "path to mastery" comment made me laugh. In many ways, Art is an attempt to master one's self. And good luck finding a path for that!

9/01/2010 2:03 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Your "path to mastery" comment made me laugh. In many ways, Art is an attempt to master one's self. And good luck finding a path for that!"

Could you elaborate?

9/01/2010 2:14 PM  
Blogger Ray said...

To Richard,

It's too late precisely because the poor soul is out tens of thousands of dollars for very little in return. Indeed, one can always take away something even though one has thrown away vast sums of money. But, how many people have that sort of income to fritter away? And since one usually goes to college to acquire skills for gainful employment, this person might essentially be starting over in debt going for another degree or settling for an unskilled job.

My focus was primarily on the student who doesn't have what it takes to make art their vocation (fine or commercial) and professors unwilling to confront rather than a substandard program from the aspect of quality or content (though they are many).

The student in question from my college days probably was befuddled to most likely find every door closed after acclimating to the soothing accolades received during the student's days (or daze) in the fine arts program.

But, I do agree with you and David regarding when the self-deception ends (even though you two have different views...I'm going into politics). The self-deception of WORKING in the field ends pretty abruptly once they start competing against those with real ability either in the commercial or fine art scene. However, the self-delusion can often go on with the thinking that "I'm a really artist but nobody realizes my greatness." Those who have minimal ability often are not able to see the gulf that spans between themselves and those who have mastered their art. The closer one gets to really getting good, the more apparent that gulf is between themselves and those they revere. For example, I've been working on my inking for several years now. I'm still not where I want to be, but the more progress I make, the more amazed I am at the work of a Leonard Starr or Stan Drake or Berni Wrightson at their sheer facility with the brush and pen.

9/01/2010 3:10 PM  
Blogger अर्जुन said...

D.A.-"There are also a number of faster sketches."

If you have these please do post!

9/01/2010 4:19 PM  
Blogger Matthew Adams said...

Is it just me, or are the comments becoming more and more boring each post?

The posts are lovely David, as always. This one is really good.

9/01/2010 7:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Matthew, no, I don't think your posts are any more boring than usual.

9/01/2010 8:35 PM  
Blogger Star said...

Just found your blog, thanks to the "Blogs of note" archive. This is a touching and profoundly important post. Wish more young art students would read and absorb its message.
It's telling, too. His comment starting with "Boys..." spells out immediately that he didn't have any girl students, at least in that class. Do you know of any, at all?
Thanks!
Star

9/02/2010 2:48 AM  
Anonymous Reid said...

These drawings are far more important for their human story than as contributions to the artistic canon.The art schools were not producing artists, in fact that is something you can't really teach.They were 'churning out' competent artisans to supply a skill to industry.Really no more.These people were highly skilled in a craft that could just as easily have been carpentry or building.
We see competent displays of craft, but to repeat myself these are not 'art',they are as lifeless as photographs of the time.
So when I hear people bemoaning the fact of lowered standards in drawing today it all seems slightly irrelevant.Society gets what society needs and the skill of drawing in this exacting way is little needed these days.Those same students would be bent over computers learning vector art today and they'd be no less happy for it.

9/02/2010 4:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reid, I think you are lifeless.

9/02/2010 9:03 AM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Reid said...
"These people were highly skilled in a craft that could just as easily have been carpentry or building."

Reid,
Are you suggesting that the skills of an expert carpenter are as cognitively intensive and unique as those skills required to produce the artwork in this post?

9/02/2010 1:05 PM  
Anonymous Lipov said...

I agree with reid, these dull, lifeless, static drawings of generic poses make me feel like watching a woker digging a tunnel with a shovel. I cant believe such pointless work is still being appreciated today. Anyone can achieve the same thing in half a second with a camera.

9/02/2010 1:39 PM  
Blogger António Araújo said...

Reid,
you go and take that photo, and you capture the image, but what do you know about the image? Nothing. You are a tourist looking at the grand canyon. You know just about the same as you did before you snaped the photo.

But you go and draw it, no devices, just you and your pencil. When you are done you know the object. You don't just know it, you "grok" it. When you draw it, you really have to drink from it, you really have to look. And you actually have an empirical device to tell you if you have grokked it or not. If you did, the drawing looks real. It looks so real in fact that someone who doesn't grok anything about drawing will come around and be able to say , "bah, it looks just like a bloody photograph". First of all, no it doesn't, second of all, the fact it sort of does is just the empirical proof that the guy who did it learned how to see. That is the value of realistic drawing (apart from considerations of art making, usefulness for the business of illustration, etc, which are separate topics).

And if you don't know how to see, and you probably don't or you wouldn't speak like that, then all I can say is that you should open your mind and give it a try. It's worth the effort.

ps: some methods of drawing are a bit like photocopying by primitive means, and you could sort of say that you can make a drawing from nature without learning all that much, but Bridgman does constructive anatomy, which deals with a process of abstraction and simplification, which is really intelectually stimulating, so you really chose a bad target.

9/02/2010 2:16 PM  
Anonymous Reid said...

Etc Etc.
Are you suggesting the hand eye skills of a top surgeon qualify him as an artist?

Lipov.
Exactly right.The ability to create art is not proportionately linked to how many hours you spend in life class.That creates skill.Skill is not art.Although some art has benefitted from a good level of skill.

9/02/2010 2:46 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Reid said...
"Are you suggesting the hand eye skills of a top surgeon qualify him as an artist?"

The hand eye skills of a surgeon qualify him as a surgeon. I have no idea what your point is, and quite frankly suspect you don't either.

9/02/2010 4:06 PM  
Anonymous Lipov said...

Just because somebody took the time to learn how to replicate reality it doesnt mean that his work should automatically be considered artistic. We invented machines to perform many mindless, time concuming tasks for us. Like camera, with it, i can copy anything you put in front of me in half a second. It is only when a person manages to imbue his drawing with something more than a mere factographical representation of reality, that his work should make any sense in an age of computers and cameras. Just because a worker dug a tunnel with a shovel, it doesnt mean that his time consuming process of digging is worth more than machines. If the machine can perform the same job much faster and far mor accurate... and thats my problem here, my camera cannot perform rembrandts drawings, but it can perform these ones mentioned here.

9/02/2010 5:02 PM  
Anonymous Reid said...

I think the highly developed skill of a contrarian such as you etc is a living tribute to the art of foolishness.If you can't understand my point you have no business playing with the grown-ups.

9/02/2010 5:05 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

"Lipov-Reid",

These life drawings are interpretations of form, gesture, and silhouette. They may not be extreme in expression, but they are interpretations nonetheless. So they are indeed works of art, if minor ones.

Photographs of the same models would merely capture the photons as they bounce off the figure toward the lens at one particular moment.

Given the obviousness of this distinction, it seems like you are trolling here.

9/02/2010 5:35 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Reid,
I asked you to clarify your own statement, specifically regarding what your assesment of the differences if any in general cognitive skills was. There was no way for you to misrepresent your own views; all you had to do was answer. Instead you dodged by posing a rhetorical question regarding the specific manual dexterity of surgeons, which I think is irrelevant, because the specific manual dexterity of surgeons does not translate into painting skills or vice versa.

9/02/2010 5:42 PM  
Anonymous Lipov said...

Kev, my camera is capable of interpretations too, I can set it to add filters and thus alter the actual captured photons. After all, you can call every human drawing an interpretation, even a childs one. Everyone is capable of interpretations, even the one digging a tunnel with a shovel.
These drawings here lack the same qualities that the photographs of the same models would. The fact that they contain a level of interpretation does not raise them from the field of craft such as carpentry. The act of interpretation should be in service of something more. That "more" would made it artistic in my book.

9/02/2010 6:05 PM  
Blogger António Araújo said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9/02/2010 6:20 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Lip,

A camera filter is a mechanical device. A human mind is a filter of a whole other order and type.

Yes, a child interprets reality with his drawings. The question is to what degree of integrity. A child's drawings can be quite remarkably true to their feelings, if not to the look of the world.

These drawing are truer to the world and express a more contemplative mood.

Which is to say, just because expression is subtle that doesn't mean it isn't there. It seem however, that subtle expression means that some won't perceive it, and thereby some will believe it isn't there. This is the common fallacy in the argument against classical art often put forth by the modern mind. The modern mind is so demanding of sensation that it can't parse anything but. So it hears silence where soft music plays and becomes agitated. (Possibly caffeine is involved.)

However I agree that these drawing are lacking as artworks. But that doesn't mean they aren't art.

Of course I agree that there would be something in a photo of the model that is missing in these drawings; extraneous and irrelevant details. What would be missing from the photographs, concurrently, is poetry.

In my opinion, anyway.

kev

9/02/2010 6:44 PM  
Blogger Corey Parker said...

I think (as usual) the point is being missed. This post was about a teacher and how he was able to get through to his students. These are examples of work from a life drawing class. The students were not in the mindset of creating a work of art anymore than they were trying to do a commercial assignment for a client. The point of life drawing is to exercise hand eye coordination and to learn about the human figure. These are GOOD drawings, not the best, not the worst, but good enough to reflect that these students had a good instructor.
What the hell does a camera have to do with exercising your hands to work with your brain? These students were LEARNING about values, proportion, line quality and anatomy. To compare it to snapping a photo or creating a vector image is completely off point.
Egon Schiele and Edgar Degas and a thousand others may have done way more captivating drawings, but that is neither here not there.

9/02/2010 7:31 PM  
Blogger António Araújo said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9/02/2010 9:04 PM  
Blogger António Araújo said...

Is it just me or is blogger crazy today? It's the fifth time I tried to post this. Jeesus! Here goes nothing:


>Anyone can achieve the same thing in >half a second with a camera.

No. The camera can copy, but it cannot understand what it copies. It is a tourist, it looks but doesn't see. You need a brain to be able to see. Seeing is analysis, simplification, reduction.

A caricaturist does this. Bridgman also does it, but it happens in reverse. He simplifies at first (a head is a ball, a torso is a box, etc) and reaches a realistic appearence as a check on the efficacy of the process.

>and the skill of drawing in this exacting way is >little needed these days.

You see drawing as a tool for art and illustration. That is a function of drawing but not the only one.

If drawing is no longer useful for art (which I bet it is) then that just means that drawing can no longer be sold as a whore, but it is still a lady. Drawing, you are not your evening job.

The first function of drawing is as a tool for seeing the world. Its epistemological level is that of mathematics and physics, not that of carnival amusement, as seen in the Tate modern and other brothels.

The camera cannot see for me. it just makes copies. When I copy, through the painstaking act of copying, I grok what I copy - I drink it and make it mine.

Why make exact drawings? Exactness is an empirical test against self-deception (that is why it is so vilified today by those who'd rather not face their own blindness). Exactness tells you that you arrived. Do not mistake exactness for the goal itself. The goal is grokking. It is consuming the object and making it yours.

You draw the world realistically not because you care about drawings but because you care about the world. I draw all the time but only sometimes do I give a crap about Art.

The drawing is the act itself, the crap that stays in the paper is the proof that the drawing happened. Don't mistake the used condom for the lovemaking.

Of course, the initiated will see beauty in the used condom, as he can read the lovemaking from its remains. :)

9/02/2010 9:09 PM  
Anonymous Lipov said...

Kev, yes, some wont percieve subtle expressions, because those people are not tuned well enough, they lack the necessary experiences that would grant them an ability to distinguish and comprehend the finest details. I dont consider myself as one of those people, but If I truly lack the ability to see that "something" in these drawings, I might as well be. Or maybe I should consider yourself too blunt to know what really counts?

I am aware of the fact that not everyone can recognize all the levels of subtlety, but its funny how you used that as an argument. You simply threw me into one of the premade profiles you have and made a conclusion based on that profile. Im a typical modern sensation seeking mind who makes common fallacys, I cannot appreciate classical art because my lack of subtlety recognision makes my caffeine addicted brain agitated. Nice one.

Can you explain what exactly do you translate as poetry? I like poetic quialities in art, the way that lines bend, the way that shading makes the objects ethereal... but I dont see that here. Good art can express that in a pure, true form, while here it seems to me that these students simply adopted a certain methodological approach to drawing that is based on achieving the romantic, poetic effect. It doesnt truly work poetic, its just a style you get when you try to rationalize and methodologically deconstruct something complex and emotional down to a learnable pattern. I think its just a style of the time that you translate as poetic, I might be wrong, thats why Im asking you.

9/02/2010 9:26 PM  
Anonymous wendy said...

My father studied with Bridgeman. I recall Dad telling me the story of a fellow student who covered a model's foot with a shrub because he was having trouble drawing it. Bridgeman told him he should have covered the other foot as well.

9/02/2010 9:44 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Star, thanks for writing. You are unfortunately correct, there were comparatively few women in this line of work at this time. Some of the great illustration teachers, such as Howard Pyle, had some noteworthy women students (look up the Red Rose girls sometime) but it was especially rare that women and men would be commingled in a class with nude models. Apparently people were worried that it would inflame the senses. Norman Rockwell has an interesting discussion about the reasons that life drawing classes could not be coed.

Reid wrote: "These people were highly skilled in a craft that could just as easily have been carpentry or building." Reid, I can't tell whether you think less of carpentry than I do or more of "fine" art than I do. But I do agree with you that "These drawings are far more important for their human story than as contributions to the artistic canon."

9/02/2010 10:03 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Lipov wrote: "I agree with reid, these dull, lifeless, static drawings of generic poses make me feel like watching a woker digging a tunnel with a shovel. I cant believe such pointless work is still being appreciated today."

Lipov, I'm not sure what your standards are for "dull" or "static." A generation that spends too much time at rock concerts standing in front of Marshall JVM410H Full Stack amplifiers loses the ability to hear delicate sounds. Putting taste aside, they become physically incapable of appreciating chamber music. Similarly, a generation weaned on Simon Bisley can develop some pretty radical notions about what a drawing must do to be exciting and dynamic.

I'm not saying these student drawings are great works of art, but I question whether you really believe that "Anyone can achieve the same thing in half a second with a camera." To the extent your comment was not just hyperbole, I'd suggest there is a difference but you are having trouble recognizing it.

9/02/2010 10:36 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

David Apatoff said...
"Marshall JVM410H Full Stack amplifiers"

Major props for that reference. I fried a 100 watt Marshall head in a previous life.

9/02/2010 11:05 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Lip,

Are you telling me that there is no poetic use of line and form here?

Well, that's obviously false. Its as plain as day.

Or are you telling me that because there is method to the poetification that it cannot be poetry?

Well, since poetification makes poetry, I can't see the sense in that charge either. No matter what, the artist is making decisions about how to represent form, gesture and silhouette, and in each case the symbolization of each by line and tone results in poetry. These poetic decisions aren't made by rote or by machine. They are made through observation, knowledge, and thought... therefore they are personal decisions, even if guided by taught principles and techniques.

9/02/2010 11:40 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Kev Ferrara wrote, "These life drawings are interpretations of form, gesture, and silhouette. They may not be extreme in expression, but they are interpretations nonetheless. So they are indeed works of art, if minor ones."

Agreed.

Corey Parker-- Thank you for paying attention!

Wendy-- great story! I appreciate your sharing it.

9/02/2010 11:45 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Etc, etc wrote: "I fried a 100 watt Marshall head in a previous life."

How's your hearing these days?

9/02/2010 11:51 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

David Apatoff said...
"How's your hearing these days?"

Still good, thankfully. Actually earbuds are causing substantial pre-mature hearing loss in youth far more than Marshall stacks, I'm told.

9/03/2010 12:42 AM  
Anonymous Reid said...

The ability to sit in front of a model and translate a 3D form into a convincing 2D pencil rendering is an act of skill.A learnt skill, using hand eye coordination.That too is what the surgeon learns,only in the case of the surgeon the skill carries real importance-potentially life-saving importance.
Is the skill required to accurately draw a foot really a big deal.If it is art it's art with a very small 'a'.
As I said earlier great works of art may contain accurate drawing but this quality does not define 'great art'.That comes from another place.

9/03/2010 3:01 AM  
Blogger António Araújo said...

>Anyone can achieve the same thing in >half a second with a camera.

No. The camera can copy, but it cannot understand what it copies. It is a tourist, it looks but doesn't see. You need a brain to be able to see. Seeing is analysis, simplification, reduction.

A caricaturist does this. Bridgman also does it, but it happens in reverse. He simplifies at first (a head is a ball, a torso is a box, etc) and reaches a realistic appearence as a check on the efficacy of the process.

>and the skill of drawing in this exacting way is >little needed these days.

You see drawing as a tool for art and illustration. That is a function of drawing but not the only one.

If drawing is no longer useful for art (which I bet it is) then that just means that drawing can no longer be sold as a whore, but it is still a lady. Drawing, you are not your evening job.

The first function of drawing is as a tool for seeing the world. Its epistemological level is that of mathematics and physics, not that of carnival amusement, as seen in the Tate modern and other brothels.

The camera cannot see for me. it just makes copies. When I copy, through the painstaking act of copying, I grok what I copy - I drink it and make it mine.

Why make exact drawings? Exactness is an empirical test against self-deception (that is why it is so vilified today by those who'd rather not face their own blindness). Exactness tells you that you arrived. Do not mistake exactness for the goal itself. The goal is grokking. It is consuming the object and making it yours.

You draw the world realistically not because you care about drawings but because you care about the world. I draw all the time but only sometimes do I give a crap about Art.

The drawing is the act itself, the crap that stays in the paper is the proof that the drawing happened. Don't mistake the used condom for the lovemaking.

Of course, the initiated will see beauty in the used condom, as he can read the lovemaking from its remains. :)

9/03/2010 4:28 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Reid wrote: "The ability to sit in front of a model and translate a 3D form into a convincing 2D pencil rendering is an act of skill."

Reid, I'm not sure where you're headed with this distinction. Is your point that "skill" is something lowly and mechanical while true "art" is somehow divinely inspired? If you are able to draw a bright line between the two, I would be interested in hearing exactly where. Personally I find it more useful to view them as something of a continuum.

But if you think translating a 3D model into a convincing 2D pencil rendering is merely an act of skill, how can we look at 100 such drawings, all of them convincing, and easily pick out the good ones from the bad ones? If this is such a mechanical process, how can there be such a variety of ways to be "accurate"? What is the role for sensitivity or boldness or vigor of line? How does one choose among the alternative ways of translating colors into line? What are we to make of superior powers of observation, or of differences in priority or emphasis? What do you think about the way that taste or mood play a role in rendering the human figure? What about delicacy of shading, or design or composition? These and a hundred other variables are involved in the skill of "sitting in front of a model and and translating a 3D form into a convincing 2D pencil rendering." Their importance should be obvious to anyone who recognizes that an "accurate" drawing can be either good or bad.

9/03/2010 6:20 AM  
Anonymous Reid said...

I'm saying there are/were many many competent students that could draw accurately.They could perceive form and, with pencil or charcoal create a convincing impression of that form on paper.
That in itself is not 'art'.
If that were art then what were the creations of Braque or Bacon or Gaugin, Van Gogh or Pollock or Rothko? Schiele's drawings were not accurate convincing repetitions of form.They were a product of his own artistic vision, twisted and stylized.

So often we get this confusion of the skill of draughtsmanship being mistaken for art.It is merely a component and one that can be completely dispensed with if necessary.Yes there are some artists that can elevate their drawings from a literal translation of form to something higher.But then all graphic artists were not the equal of Saul Bass or Paul Rand.Not all architechts were the caliber of LLoyd Wright or Neutra.
You describe no more than the sliding scale of competence.To wrap that up in an aura of semi-mysticism seems a little naive.

9/03/2010 7:26 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Reid said: "They could perceive form and, with pencil or charcoal create a convincing impression of that form on paper. That in itself is not 'art'."

Ahhh, another member of the Art Police.

As far as I am concerned, perceiving form with charcoal could very well be art. Sometimes it's not. You could also say the same thing about a picture that reflects some deeply felt emotion, or some brilliant content: sometimes it turns out to be good art, sometimes it doesn't. The same goes for art that implements some fanciful aesthetic manifesto, or art that follows some complex procedural methodology, or whatever other criterion you would like to use to cordon off Braque and Bacon.

You seem to harbor a grudge against "the skill of draftsmanship." To make matters worse, you apparently think you can isolate skill "in itself," in a vacuum, separated from those other factors that might somehow qualify it as art.

To those who think that art ain't really Art unless the artist is attuned to the transcendental oversoul, I say "Great! Less competition for some of the pictures I enjoy."

9/03/2010 8:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great topic..
Art= Heart..commitment, purpose, passion, anger, joy, serenity, disdain..these are some the emotions a viewer gleans from a piece of Art.
high draftsmanship, in and of itself can express any of the aforementioned components..thus acting as its own self propelling portion..
drawing is mystical..
The commitment to observation, practice, and talent of one who can really draw can rarely be dismissed..even on a purely academic level..
I am sure any of these student drawings, framed and matted, would look quite lovely hanging on my wall.. when combined with other artistic options; color, design, composition,..along with an understanding of application and tecnique..wonderful can things happen..
Derrick H.

9/03/2010 9:21 AM  
Anonymous Reid said...

David:
Why would I 'cordon off' Braque and Bacon, I'm using them as examples of great art where there is little evidence of extended hours in the life class.At the risk of repeating myself again great art may in some cases display skilled draughtsmanship,but that is not in itself a defining quality of great art.
Take these drawings for what they were, an exercise in hand eye skill by an unknown class of trainee artisans.That's how I see and evaluate them.No more 'art' than those well painted but formulaic animation backgrounds you posted recently.On sale at something like $10 apiece.

9/03/2010 10:23 AM  
Blogger Michael Fraley said...

I love this post. As I looked through the drawings, I kept trying to spot the Russian woman Rockwell described who would walk around smoking a cigar in the nude, looking at students' work. I found that in my own figure drawing classes there wasn't the tight focus on anatomy that Bridgman had, and was surprised when talking to another student to find that we both had taken medical classes, using that as a kind of supplement.

9/03/2010 10:52 AM  
Blogger Michael Fraley said...

Oh - and David, that line about "All that remains are ghosts on crumbling paper" almost had me in tears today. Quite a nice choice of words.

9/03/2010 11:01 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

"If that were art then what were the creations of [...] Pollock or Rothko?"
Interior Design?

"drawing is mystical..."
What sort of mysticism do you mean? Satori? A catholic mysticism, i.e. communion with deity? The sort of mysticism suggested in "Zen of Seeing: Seeing/Drawing as Meditation"?

9/03/2010 12:13 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Reid, I'm trying to figure out where david called these studies "great art?" In fact, he agreed with me that they are "minor" works of art.

Lip, I'd love to hear your definition of art. I think it would be educational.

9/03/2010 12:42 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"Which is to say, just because expression is subtle that doesn't mean it isn't there."

I agree wholeheartedly, but I also think that quite regularly people so accustom themselves to subtlety that they can't see other subtlety when it is in... louder works, or those works that have more obvious elements.

I think this sort of thinking is a bit more obvious within music, where the white middle class who listens exclusively to very obvious pop music cannot appreciate the subtleties in Hip-hop or Punk music -- genres that are no less but merely differently subtle.

In Art we saw this very heavily with the Ancient Egyptians whom thought that Amenophis IV's insistence on reality in his artworks was far too obvious nearly to the point of heresy -- they thought it had lost the subtlety of past works. "Trying to make the image look like an actual human? How de classe!" We know better, Amenophis IV's insistence on realism merely invented greater subtleties, subtleties which eventually led to the Cretans and later the Greeks to give us the robust realist tradition we have inherited today.

9/03/2010 2:03 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

So, to sum up my feelings on the matter, both sides look to me to be acting a little silly here.

The trolls are silly for confusing their own boredom with a lack of content.

The regulars are silly for confusing the trolls' boredom with ignorance.

9/03/2010 2:14 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Richard,

Referees, meta-commentators, and devil's advocates all suck.



It is very easy for an educated person to make an ignorant comment, having lost sight of reality in an effort to make a strong point. I can't think of anybody around here who hasn't had that experience when commenting. I think Lipov's contention that these drawings aren't art is only the latest instance of this well-oiled mental mousetrap trapping a defiant squeaker.

Fyi, I know a lot of "white middle class people" who listen to rap and punk. And death metal. (Racist generalizations also suck.)

Re: My comment earlier about "good luck finding a path to self-mastery" ... Art requires the mastering of fear, boredom, indolence, concentration, and loneliness, physical interaction with materials and techniques, tons of information about the world and about Art, and the imagination. There is no one who can master you for you but you. Therefore there is no path except the one you make. Hope that explains it, sorry for the koanesque reply.

9/03/2010 2:41 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

What constitutes art is subjective and always debatable. However, I know of no one personally who has achieved some degree of competency in life drawing that would not at least respect and appreciate the skill of these drawings. I do know of some who are incompetent that would not respect and appreciate them. There are many that have tried to achieve competency and failed, in contrast to a common skill such as carpentry.

9/03/2010 3:31 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"Fyi, I know a lot of "white middle class people" who listen to rap and punk. And death metal. (Racist generalizations also suck.)"


BOOOOOOOOORRRRRIIINNNNGGGG.

There is a big difference between making a generalization about a loose group of people -- you are more likely to get robbed by a black guy (statistical fact), Trekkies like sci-fi (statistical fact), Indians like Garam Masala (my own deduced correlation), and "racism".

Racism sounds like "White people are genetically inferior athletes."

While I do hold many racist beliefs (Asians and White people are genetically inferior at growing penises), my prior comment was not a generalization about the white middle classes' genetic aptitude for liking Rap and Punk music, merely hyperbole about an obvious correlation.

White people don't like Habaneroes.

White people like New Balances.

White people don't like eating jellyfish.

White people like 'black music' that black people don't listen to anymore.

White people don't like sunburn.

White people like to pretend to like Classical music.

White people don't like people who talk loudly on the bus.

The above say nothing about white people's genetics, and thus are not Racist. They merely talk about this group of Americans who happen to have lighter skin that we have termed "white people" because there are certain things that correlate between this chroma/value group and the way this group live their statistically averaged day to day life.

9/03/2010 3:48 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

"However, I know of no one personally who has achieved some degree of competency in life drawing that would not at least respect and appreciate the skill of these drawings."

You mean not competent at rendering I believe as life drawing can be many different things of which this is merely just an example.

9/03/2010 3:50 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Richard, I was joking about you being racist against whites. Clearly you are a cracker from toenails to cow lick. So your post was unnecessary. And, yes, BORRRRRRING.

9/03/2010 7:24 PM  
Anonymous Kpakpo Akwei said...

Hey Mr Apatoff:
Great post as ususal. I've been a faithful reader for about a year now and though I wish you'd post more, I also value the gravitas of your articles and frankly it's sometimes a relief to know I can come here after a while and not feel out of place.
Anyway, I don't recall you mentionning any African American illustrator in your blog. Please understand that this is not some misguided political correctness mumbo jumbo. I'm simply of West African descent and was wondering if you knew or have mentionned any black illustrators of note. I'm talking about real illustrators past or present, draftsmen of worthy of the canons you espouse not mere photoshop artists.
Also, I've read that oils revolutionized painting but did not fully attain the height their potential until the likes of Sargent and Bougereau. In this context, what is your exegesis of photoshop as a tool, how is its use to be properly understood?
I'll take whatever you throw at me.
Kpakpo A.
kcakwei at gmail dot com

9/04/2010 6:57 AM  
Blogger Tom said...

Hi David

Do you know what medium these drawings where made with? Vine charcoal or charcoal pencil? And how much time would the student have spent on them?

9/04/2010 8:02 AM  
Anonymous Reid said...

From the end of the Victorian era thru to the twenties, art schools and colleges in the U.S and Europe were turning out pupils by the hundred adept at this kind of observational drawing.Because it is a rarity now there's a kind of elevated respect for it-generally by those whose skill falls short of that standard,
The truth is that most of these people would never have lasted the distance at those colleges with hour after hour of daily life classes.They'd have dropped out so they could 'express their own creativity'.That skill was born of tedious repetition and daily grind, which is the main reason I describe the students as 'artisans' trained to make pictures.It is cnly this modern day wooly headedness that throws the terms 'artist' and 'works of art' around.
My parallel with those Korean animation backgrounds still stands.These life-drawings are a product of the same work ethic and should be seen as such.

9/05/2010 1:44 AM  
Blogger T Arthur Smith said...

Entering the duel...

David Apaatoff, I just spent the week reading through this entire blog and finally finished it. I just clicked here again to thank you, for the many captivating stories and works of art. And, then found this debate...

I'm going to respond to some of what was said. I'm just a fan, and these are just my opinions. They're meant just for consideration, nothing more.

"These people were highly skilled in a craft that could just as easily have been carpentry or building."

There's no artistry in carpentry or building? What of the art nouveau movement? Just because many carpenters/stores don't fully consider the creative potential of their craft, doesn't mean it isn't there. I think the point you're missing is, this is the skill they wanted to be highly trained in, and devote their lives to. Being highly trained in something isn't usually something we mock.

"Just because somebody took the time to learn how to replicate reality it doesnt mean that his work should automatically be considered artistic."

Others have commented on the artistic merits of these works, and I couldn't add meaningfully to that, but, I'd like to make a different argument. It's not so important to me to ask if this is Art, so much as to ask myself, how can I benefit from this? When I ask this, I find many fine answers. Same thing with a surgeon.

"We see competent displays of craft, but to repeat myself these are not 'art',they are as lifeless as photographs of the time."

I've heard people criticize atelier drawing as dull - that the models seem to want to go home and stretch, and I've seen works where I agree. I dont'see that here. In these studies, I see a great sense of life, of searching, and of finding nobility in each model. Look at the faces of these drawings and see if you don't see it.

"Anyone can achieve the same thing in half a second with a camera."

I disagree. I took a photo history course where the professor tried to distinguish both drawing and photography as having separate forms of syntax, each with their own merits. I came away feeling you could make the exact same image, and nearly the same object with either process. They're merely different approaches to the same thing. A simple snapshot could not convey the thought and care of these drawings, although a professional photographer with many years experience, and the right equipment could. He could make the exact same image with the exact same lines, although it would take quite a lot of work to arrange - maybe he'd use wire shadows on a wall. But he would not be achieving the same thing. The knowledge gained would be different and lead to different uses.

I've seen artists I admire belittle photography as an art, and I believe it's partly because they view it as a threat. Some of the most beautiful photos I've ever seen were from amateurs taking snapshots outside, and it's scandalous for a illustrator, after decades of hard work, to see something so flippant put in the same category. They'll say things like "don't confuse art with beauty." The definitions they then create for art become so convoluted, it's like looking at a moebius strip. This is why I find it unimportant to define art, and more important to ask, how do I/the viewer benefit?

"The students were not in the mindset of creating a work of art anymore than they were trying to do a commercial assignment for a client."

This sums it up perfectly. Student exercises are important for what is learned, not the end product. Just to add, we don't know the names of these students, or what they went on to become. In another context, these drawings here might be praised by the same voices trashing them now.

9/05/2010 7:37 AM  
Blogger T Arthur Smith said...

Entering the duel...

David Apaatoff, I just spent the week reading through this entire blog and finally finished it. I just clicked here again to thank you, for the many captivating stories and works of art. And, then found this debate...

I'm going to respond to some of what was said. I'm just a fan, and these are just my opinions. They're meant just for consideration, nothing more.

"These people were highly skilled in a craft that could just as easily have been carpentry or building."

There's no artistry in carpentry or building? What of the art nouveau movement? Just because many carpenters/stores don't fully consider the creative potential of their craft, doesn't mean it isn't there. I think the point you're missing is, this is the skill they wanted to be highly trained in, and devote their lives to. Being highly trained in something isn't usually something we mock.

"Just because somebody took the time to learn how to replicate reality it doesnt mean that his work should automatically be considered artistic."

Others have commented on the artistic merits of these works, and I couldn't add meaningfully to that, but, I'd like to make a different argument. It's not so important to me to ask if this is Art, so much as to ask myself, how can I benefit from this? When I ask this, I find many fine answers. Same thing with a surgeon.

"We see competent displays of craft, but to repeat myself these are not 'art',they are as lifeless as photographs of the time."

I've heard people criticize atelier drawing as dull - that the models seem to want to go home and stretch, and I've seen works where I agree. I dont'see that here. In these studies, I see a great sense of life, of searching, and of finding nobility in each model. Look at the faces of these drawings and see if you don't see it.

"Anyone can achieve the same thing in half a second with a camera."

I disagree. I took a photo history course where the professor tried to distinguish both drawing and photography as having separate forms of syntax, each with their own merits. I came away feeling you could make the exact same image, and nearly the same object with either process. They're merely different approaches to the same thing. A simple snapshot could not convey the thought and care of these drawings, although a professional photographer with many years experience, and the right equipment could. He could make the exact same image with the exact same lines, although it would take quite a lot of work to arrange - maybe he'd use wire shadows on a wall. But he would not be achieving the same thing. The knowledge gained would be different and lead to different uses.

I've seen artists I admire belittle photography as an art, and I believe it's partly because they view it as a threat. Some of the most beautiful photos I've ever seen were from amateurs taking snapshots outside, and it's scandalous for a illustrator, after decades of hard work, to see something so flippant put in the same category. They'll say things like "don't confuse art with beauty." The definitions they then create for art become so convoluted, it's like looking at a moebius strip. This is why I find it unimportant to define art, and more important to ask, how do I/the viewer benefit?

"The students were not in the mindset of creating a work of art anymore than they were trying to do a commercial assignment for a client."

This sums it up perfectly. Student exercises are important for what is learned, not the end product. Just to add, we don't know the names of these students, or what they went on to become. In another context, these drawings here might be praised by the same voices trashing them now.

9/05/2010 7:40 AM  
Blogger T Arthur Smith said...

Entering the duel...

David Apaatoff, I just spent the week reading through this entire blog and finally finished it. I just clicked here again to thank you, for the many captivating stories and works of art. And, then found this debate...

I'm going to respond to some of what was said. I'm just a fan, and these are just my opinions. They're meant just for consideration, nothing more.

"These people were highly skilled in a craft that could just as easily have been carpentry or building."

There's no artistry in carpentry or building? What of the art nouveau movement? Just because many carpenters/stores don't fully consider the creative potential of their craft, doesn't mean it isn't there. I think the point you're missing is, this is the skill they wanted to be highly trained in, and devote their lives to. Being highly trained in something isn't usually something we mock.

"Just because somebody took the time to learn how to replicate reality it doesnt mean that his work should automatically be considered artistic."

Others have commented on the artistic merits of these works, and I couldn't add meaningfully to that, but, I'd like to make a different argument. It's not so important to me to ask if this is Art, so much as to ask myself, how can I benefit from this? When I ask this, I find many fine answers. Same thing with a surgeon.

"We see competent displays of craft, but to repeat myself these are not 'art',they are as lifeless as photographs of the time."

I've heard people criticize atelier drawing as dull - that the models seem to want to go home and stretch, and I've seen works where I agree. I dont'see that here. In these studies, I see a great sense of life, of searching, and of finding nobility in each model. Look at the faces of these drawings and see if you don't see it.

9/05/2010 7:41 AM  
Blogger T Arthur Smith said...

"Anyone can achieve the same thing in half a second with a camera."

I disagree. I took a photo history course where the professor tried to distinguish both drawing and photography as having separate forms of syntax, each with their own merits. I came away feeling you could make the exact same image, and nearly the same object with either process. They're merely different approaches to the same thing. A simple snapshot could not convey the thought and care of these drawings, although a professional photographer with many years experience, and the right equipment could. He could make the exact same image with the exact same lines, although it would take quite a lot of work to arrange - maybe he'd use wire shadows on a wall. But he would not be achieving the same thing. The knowledge gained would be different and lead to different uses.

I've seen artists I admire belittle photography as an art, and I believe it's partly because they view it as a threat. Some of the most beautiful photos I've ever seen were from amateurs taking snapshots outside, and it's scandalous for a illustrator, after decades of hard work, to see something so flippant put in the same category. They'll say things like "don't confuse art with beauty." The definitions they then create for art become so convoluted, it's like looking at a moebius strip. This is why I find it unimportant to define art, and more important to ask, how do I/the viewer benefit?

"The students were not in the mindset of creating a work of art anymore than they were trying to do a commercial assignment for a client."

This sums it up perfectly. Student exercises are important for what is learned, not the end product. Just to add, we don't know the names of these students, or what they went on to become. In another context, these drawings here might be praised by the same voices trashing them now.

9/05/2010 7:41 AM  
Blogger T Arthur Smith said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9/05/2010 7:42 AM  
Blogger T Arthur Smith said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9/05/2010 7:42 AM  
Blogger T Arthur Smith said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9/05/2010 7:43 AM  
Anonymous Reid said...

"There's no artistry in carpentry or building? What of the art nouveau movement? Just because many carpenters/stores don't fully consider the creative potential of their craft, doesn't mean it isn't there. I think the point you're missing is, this is the skill they wanted to be highly trained in, and devote their lives to. Being highly trained in something isn't usually something we mock."

Exactly.And is the carpenter or builder or Korean background painter called an 'artist'? No.
In seeking to dispute my point,you actually make it for me.Thanks.

9/05/2010 8:23 AM  
Blogger T Arthur Smith said...

"And is the carpenter or builder or Korean background painter called an 'artist'? No."

I'd say yes, so the point isn't yet made. The closest you can come to defining what is and isn't art is by ending your statement with, "in my mind." Try it:

"is the carpenter or builder or Korean background painter called an 'artist'? Not in my mind."

One separate issue I found in this blog deals with Art Spiegelman, which I know is a separate topic. I just wanted to comment quickly based on a guest lecture I heard from Laylah Ali. She discussed a series of detailed portraits she drew of African Americans with nooses. She said she got fed up with comments like "wow what a lovely rope she drew." Sometimes, realism or beauty detracts from the message of a story. I don't think Art Spiegleman would want anything about "Maus" to be beautiful, except the way people rise in the face of peril. Plus, maybe I have lower standards, because I thought all the examples shown were pretty good.

9/05/2010 8:54 AM  
Anonymous Reid said...

TAS
You still don't get it do you?

To me, the carpenter, builder, Korean bagkground painter,Edwardian art student are all doing the same thing.They are all making things using thair learnt skills.The word 'art' small 'a' is equally applicaable to all of them.They are artisans.Here is a definition of that word:
"... is a skilled manual worker who makes items that may be functional or strictly decorative, including furniture, clothing, jewelry, household items..."

Do you see yet? please say you do I'm boring myself to sleep filling in all the gaps. I thought didn't need to supply endless clarification.

9/05/2010 9:39 AM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Reid said...
"I thought didn't need to supply endless clarification"

That's what happens when you attempt to redefine terminology.

9/05/2010 10:23 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Carpenters are building something with wood. Artists are expressing something with symbols. There is a whole world in that difference.

Art is mostly not about craft, although it helps to have fluency, in order to most fluidly express the idea du jour. And the personality of the artist is a legit and longstanding theme of art. The artist's personality cannot be hidden, even if not fully developed.

In these drawings, I see a lot of personality and emotional sympathy. How many personalities are at work, I wouldn't know except to guess (I would say, blindly, that 3 or 4 artist did these.) Regardless of the exact number of artists at work here, these pictures are the result of one human personality, through keen observation, teasing out the resonant indicators of another, and then symbolizing them. A camera does not and can not do this. A camera captures, it does not seek out. It records notes of light and dark, it does not symbolize these values and the edges that separate them.

Carpentry is all craft from start to finish and personality really does not enter into it. (Although a carpenter may do some particular thing or another, at some particular level of skill by which their hand may be identified.)

While the ambition involved in arriving at a (dreaded) "definition of art" may strike some as hubristic, and while some definitions of art are clearly based on nothing more than the exclusion of what irritates a particular authoritarian mind, calling all definitions or discussions of the nature of art "convoluted" (simply because one cannot understand them) is equally wanting of humility. And education.

For thousands of years, hundreds of the most brilliant minds of western civilization have hammered away at this very topic in prose written with such tedious intricacy that it would make the average TV watcher weep. Sometimes "convoluted" is just code for "hard for me to understand." Particular for amateurs who just dip a toe in, now and again.

Time and again on this blog and other art discussion blogs, we all come to see that not every post and point is for every body and every mind.

9/05/2010 11:35 AM  
Blogger Nick Name said...

I'm fascinated by these drawings because they show the level of competence that can be achieved by the average student with good teaching and consistent application and effort. They aren't art in and of themselves, but they are necessary for the production of a certain type of art.

The "mere" competence demonstrated here is an exercise, and as such trains the eye and hand to serve the purpose of art when so desired at another time. Not all of these people had it in them to be Artists. Some remained mere craftsmen, producing work that the camera (unaided by Photoshop) could not. Others became important artists who were capable of producing works of balance, harmony and emotional power precisely because they were trained to see planes of form, place lighter or darker marks to represent them, and so forth.

A great example is the drawing of the figure in the antique costume. It's not an amazing drawing, but it does show a pretty good grasp of how to show the underlying figure in a draped pose without giving undue importance to the wrinkles in the cloth. Relatively few contemporary painters have that skill. You might say that it is an area of expression that is effectively denied to them because they haven't put in the time to acquire this particular subset of craft.

One door opens, another door closes....

9/05/2010 12:07 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

All the tools of culture are shared by all cultural disciplines. It is how we "think about things" that makes doing possible. The right angle is lawful as Courbusier says, "cultural is an orthogonal state of mind." It is much more interesting how carpentry and art are similar then different.

9/05/2010 1:07 PM  
Blogger T Arthur Smith said...

"To me, the carpenter, builder, Korean bagkground painter,Edwardian art student are all doing the same thing."
I disagree. It's not enough to say they're all using a learned skill, and lumping them together. You can say that about anyone, even Da Vinci. Carpentry covers a wide field, but if there's no real creativity or "spark" to it, how do you explain the wide variety of furniture in the MET? What do you call a carpenter who combines bas relief and inlay imagery with his bureaus. Building is another wide field, and while I wouldn't call a construction worker an artist, I do consider many architects. In each case stated, I see something happening beyond skill and decoration, and in each case I see different directions for personal choice and creativity to blossom. For me, this argument is so nuanced it really depends on the particular artist and his/her level of care. I agree their aims are different from, say, Van Gogh, but I don't like making distinctions as to which art deserves a capital letter. It's too subjective for me.
At any rate you're also missing the biggest point of this thread, that the goal of these works was to train their craft so that they could create art after. If making illustration for commercial purposes isn't art, what do you say of all the Bernie Fuchs posts? I've heard artists on the other side of this debate share similar concern about art education, here's a quote from Chris Bennett:
"There has not been, as yet, a book written that promotes understanding of what is unique about and peculiar to the vocabulary and grammar of painting. The formulas and 'tips' contained in these volumes are generally providing codes for replicating ways of building images.
Its a situation rather like someone learning the guitar by memorising chord shapes in sequence to play their favourite songs without having any idea about the grammar of harmony. It sounds like they know their instrument, but only if they are asked to play their party pieces. So, for example, in a book about landscape composition, all we are getting is a couple of generalised pointers about how to make one's efforts 'balance' by superimposing a vague template crudely sifted from some successful pictures in the past. 'Knowledge' used in this fashion is in fact a prison. Understanding the engine behind these codes is what enables you to speak as an artist.
Unfortunately, I know of no book that addresses this comprehensively. You have to find it by asking yourself some tough questions about what on earth it is you are doing, what it is for and why you are not trying to do it in any other, more expedient, way."

Considering Chris Bennett praises Bridgeman and his books, I suppose there's more nuance to this debate then you're admitting.

9/05/2010 1:32 PM  
Anonymous Reid said...

Kev, I think you are projecting your own thoughts onto this.The models have that thousand yard stare to avoid eye contact with the students and most of these people wear the dispirited look of someone doing un unpleasant task out of financial necessity.I see no possibility for subtle nuances of personality to be drawn out.I doubt if most of the students even knew the models' names.
I suspect many of these students' later paid work will have been unnoticed in a commercial art or engraver's studio, not Colliers or Redbook.That is artisan work and damn hard it was too.And there is no shame in that word 'artisan'.No disrespect.
Great Art, I think, is felt viscerally ,so why bother to define it.These drawings are good but a long way and inspiration off being Art.Like a study or preliminary sketch.
Nick, I 100% agree with your opinion.

9/05/2010 1:36 PM  
Blogger T Arthur Smith said...

"To me, the carpenter, builder, Korean bagkground painter, Edwardian art student are all doing the same thing."

I disagree. It's not enough to say they're all using a learned skill, and lumping them together. You can say that about anyone, even Da Vinci. Carpentry covers a wide field, but if there's no real creativity or "spark" to it, how do you explain the wide variety of furniture in the MET? What do you call a carpenter who combines bas relief and inlay imagery with his bureaus?

Building is another wide field, and while I wouldn't call a construction worker an artist, I do consider many architects. In each case stated, I see something happening beyond skill and decoration, and I see different directions for personal choice and creativity to blossom. For me, this argument is so nuanced it really depends on the particular artist and his/her level of care. I agree their aims are different from, say, Van Gogh, but I don't like making distinctions as to which art deserves a capital letter. It's too subjective for me.

At any rate you're also missing the biggest point of this thread, that the goal of these works was to train their craft so that they could create art after. You're debating whether it's art, when you mean to debate wheather this is good art education. I've heard other artists share similar concerns about art education. here's a quote from Chris Bennett:

9/05/2010 1:37 PM  
Blogger T Arthur Smith said...

"There has not been, as yet, a book written that promotes understanding of what is unique about and peculiar to the vocabulary and grammar of painting. The formulas and 'tips' contained in these volumes are generally providing codes for replicating ways of building images."

"Its a situation rather like someone learning the guitar by memorising chord shapes in sequence to play their favourite songs without having any idea about the grammar of harmony. It sounds like they know their instrument, but only if they are asked to play their party pieces."

"So, for example, in a book about landscape composition, all we are getting is a couple of generalised pointers about how to make one's efforts 'balance' by superimposing a vague template crudely sifted from some successful pictures in the past. 'Knowledge' used in this fashion is in fact a prison. Understanding the engine behind these codes is what enables you to speak as an artist."

"Unfortunately, I know of no book that addresses this comprehensively. You have to find it by asking yourself some tough questions about what on earth it is you are doing, what it is for and why you are not trying to do it in any other, more expedient, way."

Considering Chris Bennett praises Bridgeman and his books, I suppose there's more nuance to this debate then you're admitting.

9/05/2010 1:39 PM  
Blogger T Arthur Smith said...

And Kev, your definition of art does not require much in the way of education nor intellect to understand, and only slightly more to see through. Don't be so full of yourself.

9/05/2010 1:57 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Reid,

It is much easier to express one's personality free of the constraints of commercial enterprise. However, it is only the greats who can do "finished" work on assignment and have it both excellent in meeting the demands of the job, and excellent in personal expression.

It may very well be that none of the artists represented ever did much in the professional world, but I see interpretive expression here in the graphics symbolization of these faces that can't be captured by mechanical means. Therefore I see this as art.

Tom, I think "craftsmanship" ends the comparison between art and carpentry. Therefore I would disagree that the comparison is more worthy of discussion than an airing of discrepancies. (willing to be proven wrong, of course.)

Nick, I enjoyed looking at your website. I wonder, though, why you don't consider these sketches works of art? What is your criteria for something to be art?

9/05/2010 2:30 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Arthur, jesus christ... please don't start this childish routine of yours again here.

You have never once posted a considered reply on the topic of aesthetics, except to dismiss it all as "just one opinion" or "convulted, confusing, etc."

You know you haven't researched the topic, read on it, or thought about it much. So stop being pretentious. If you want to engage, engage. But have something to say first.

And for the last time, it isn't my definition of art, I don't only subscribe to one definition, and I'm not settled on what I do believe.

9/05/2010 2:44 PM  
Blogger T Arthur Smith said...

Well, that's a start.

9/05/2010 3:21 PM  
Anonymous Reid said...

Kev just take a look at the photographs of Lisette Model, Weegee or Richard Avedon and you'll see all subtle nuances of expression you ever need.Even the momentary changes of mood that sometimes pass unnoticed.

Most of the 'greats' worked their way up from a basic level of skill to something much higher, re. Albert Dorne or Robert Fawcett's early work. But not all of us are capable of making that journey.That's where the 'something special' comes in.
For every Neal Adams or Wrightson there are 50 Jack Sparlings or Don Perlins.

9/05/2010 3:37 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Reid, I'm aware of how well photographs can capture the subtleties of personality. It is a different order entirely to notice those salient aspects of a person which may be fleeting, or may occur over time, or which the camera can't notice or isn't sensitive to, or which only exist in our imagination... and then to poeticize those things, so to capture them symbolically. The purpose of Bridgman's teaching was to get students to make graphic interpretations that have artistic integrity, which is "photographic" mimetic integrity plus and minus so much more.

9/05/2010 4:18 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

Hi Kev

I guess all I am saying is seeing similarites between things gives the artist more creative power or any endeavor more power. The obvious thing is to see differences. I think it is interesting how Bridgeman constantly refers to archiecture and building the figurei.e. mortise and tendon, mouldings, interlocking, wedging etc. I have seen lots of artistic brickwork and buildings that shine with the presence of great art.



Just an aside; The clavicles in these drawing really feel like they are pushing out aganist the skin. The shoulder areas are quite understood. Which in my mind much more demanding task that taking a photo.

9/05/2010 5:33 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Tom,

I think in general the process of learning about a wide open field of endeavor (like art, human behavior, or politics) goes something like this:

1. Everything is an undifferentiated mass of data.
2. We learn to see distinctions, anomalies, and details and become hyper-critical.
3. We learn to see connections, patterns, generalities, and the wider context and these appreciations temper the hyper-criticality.

Is that what you mean?

9/05/2010 7:47 PM  
Anonymous Reid said...

Kev:
Both photographer and painter need to understand or have a view of the sitter if the product is to be a sensitive or intuitive portrait.
I don't believe either medium is more effective despite photographic portraiture being the dominant form in the mid to late 20th century.There is possibly slightly more snob value in an oil painting, but no more perceved 'truth'.
With the exception of the English painter Graham Sutherland I know of very few painters of portraits who wouldnt make the captain of industry distinguished and solid, the army general phlegmatic and heroic, the politician sincere and stoic and the society beauty captivating and luminous.The 'pscychological insight' that Bridgman would espouse could seldom rise above cliche.
Once again its all in the eye of the beholder.

9/05/2010 8:18 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Reid, photography became dominant because it takes no skill to make the photo look like the person in front of the lens, and therefore anybody could do it - which makes it cheap -- and thereby anybody could pay for it. (It may take 30 clicks of the shutter to find a picture the client thinks is worth spending money on, but the labor involved in 1 click is not much less than 30 finger presses. Given the nature of the commerce of the 20th century, if you can sell with the mouth what takes very little time to do with the hands, you go with the mouth-based business. Goodbye Winsor & Newton, Hello Kodak!)

Another reason photo portraits became dominant is because most people, when they see a portrait painting, think only of whether it looks like the person sitting. And, again, can't go far wrong in terms of likeness if you take a photo of a person.

Portraits rendered by a sensitive artist can't help but do more and less than a photo. That is to say, they can't help being quantitatively different than photos. Good Art has only the barest overlap with photographs; Photos are constructed of facts. Art is constructed of gestures.

In my collection of digital images of paintings, I have literally hundreds of incredible portraits that photography cannot touch. Graham Sutherland is just one among many who defeat your proposition.

One last point: Whether a captain of industry looks distinguished or a general looks heroic in their portrait seems immaterial. Especially given that a captain of industry can very well look distinguished and proud in real life, and a general can very well look resolute and commanding. To accuse somebody of being a cliche because they look a certain way is about as silly as any other bigotry. I've never known anybody who didn't conform to some type or other. And I've never known anybody who wasn't more complicated than their type first suggested.

9/05/2010 8:41 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

Yes I like that Kev. I think you're 3rd point is right on, I would even go futher and say we develop apperication for life and things. That is what makes geometry so powerful, seeing similarities. Some people where able to see beyond the appearance of form to the underlying princilples that govern all forms.

In regards to the photo issue I doubt there are many photographers who could like Bridgeman through drawing show how the shoulder gridle works. Drawing something quickly reveals how much one understand a subject, Thats
why it can be so humilating.

9/06/2010 12:01 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Tom,

I agree. However, in regards to art, there is so much bad information or misunderstandings floating around, that step 2 should always be left on the menu. :)


Reid, I can't tell if you're trolling or not. Are you really saying that your measure of a good portrait artist is that he makes Generals not look commanding? And only Graham Sutherland need apply? That if a general looks commanding that that is a cliche? That a photographer needs to get to know somebody to take a photo that looks like the person? That the 'pscychological insight' that Bridgman would espouse could seldom rise above cliche? That photos offer more truth than art? (Do you know the difference between fact and truth?)

It is very rare that a post contain so many egregious soundbites and the poster is not trolling. I'd like to give you the benefit of the doubt. Yet, I feel I wouldn't be rewarded in further engagement, so I'll bid you adieu.

9/06/2010 10:23 AM  
Blogger Tom said...

Hi Kev
I like that "difference between fact and truth" I think Matisse said," exactitude is not truth.". Not that I don't like exactitude.

9/06/2010 11:21 AM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Reid's game is to indulge himself by redefining artist and artisan from definitions based upon type of work produced to quality (as determined by Reid of course) in order to insult art he does not like, and then add further insults when his game is exposed.

9/06/2010 11:33 AM  
Anonymous Reid said...

Kev, the failure lies in your inability to think outside the box.I tend to think that intelligent people can pick up on an ironic tone and 'fill in the gaps', it saves one having to spell everything out in long-winded fashion.But obviously I was wrong, Americans don't do irony.I'm here to make a point,have an interesting exchange of ideas and have some fun in the process.
Is that 'trolling'? I have no idea what that term indicates.

And just for etc's benefit to show how wrong he is, I fancy that I could produce a life drawing to the standard of those posted.I dont use the academic extended arm measuring system, mine is based on a knowledge of learnt ratios and comparative measurements which by the time I firm up my contours tend to become semi-invisible.But I've learnt this over the years and it works for me.It's quite possible GB may not have approved,but I've never felt his own texts capture the plastic quality of the human figure.
Anyway it's been (occasionally) interesting, we Brits think differently to you so maybe that explains the problems with comprehension and irony.
You should be more welcoming of outsiders rather than fearing alternate viewpoints.Adieu.

9/06/2010 2:03 PM  
Anonymous Everybody on this Blog said...

Hah. Flatter yourself a bit more there, chief.

I'd love to see your work. Got a link?

9/06/2010 2:11 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Reid said...
"And just for etc's benefit to show how wrong he is, I fancy that I could produce a life drawing to the standard of those posted."

You "fancy" you "could", i.e. you have not, and that's showing me how wrong I am. Laughable. Fancy on.

9/06/2010 2:35 PM  
Blogger António Araújo said...

Speaking personally, I (try to) draw realistically not because I care about drawing, but because I care about reality.

The camera cannot do this for me because it cannot see for me. When it works it merely makes a copy; but when I make a painstaking drawing of what I see, I "grok" what I see: I learn it, drink from it, make it mine.

The drawing (in this sense) is the process itself, not the crap that stays on the paper after the act. That is just the proof that drawing took place. Do not mistake the used condom for the lovemaking.

9/06/2010 5:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I fancy that I could produce a life drawing to the standard of those posted."

No. You couldn't.

Feel free to prove me wrong.

9/06/2010 10:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, you probably could draw like that if you had the right training. I've seen many drawings like these and better at the Art Students League and no one remembers who did them.

9/07/2010 2:23 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

Reid said, "I fancy that I could produce a life drawing to the standard of those posted."

That is obviously false because if you could you'd be able to appreciate those drawings.

9/07/2010 10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David said (a while back): "A generation that spends too much time at rock concerts standing in front of Marshall JVM410H Full Stack amplifiers loses the ability to hear delicate sounds. Putting taste aside, they become physically incapable of appreciating chamber music."

This isn't true. I enjoy big rock concerts. I also enjoy Beethoven's quartets. They are not mutually exclusive.

9/07/2010 7:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I fancy that I could paint like Rembrandt if I felt like it.

I'd be talking bollocks but that doesn't stop me from fancying the notion.

9/07/2010 11:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can we stop the heckling Reid over the "I fancy" thing? He could be able to draw better than any of us. We don't know. And it really doesn't matter anyway. So stop bullying.

9/08/2010 9:46 AM  
Blogger Mellie said...

We shouldn't be sidetracked by the question of what media artists use. Brushes, oil paints, computers, carpentry kits, cameras etc are just tools. Trying to argue that one is innately superior to another is generally fruitless. Carpentry can be used to produce great art, so can oil paints or computers or photography. Human beings can make art out of anything, even their own excrement.

Of course all media have their own particular qualities. But what is most important is the human being behind the tools: How great is the thing they are trying to communicate, and in how great a way do they communicate it?

Technical skill is only one of the ways we measure their success. Someone can display outstanding skill in creating utterly shallow work.

Making our way through the jungle of considerations to make a critical judgement is a challenge, as we all know.

9/08/2010 10:27 AM  
Blogger Aaron Coberly said...

Thanks for posting these. Very inspiring

9/09/2010 5:23 PM  
Blogger Eric Noble said...

Amazing. I'm sure George Bridgman would have laughed at me if I had tried to join his class. These are absolutely amazing.

BTW Mr. Apatoff, do you happen to know who Joseph Isom is? I know he was an illustrator, but I can't find anymore information on him. I've posted some of his illustrations here.

9/09/2010 10:46 PM  
Blogger Sofia said...

превосходно!!!!просто нет слов какхорошо выполнено!))

9/12/2010 3:00 AM  
Anonymous Lassie said...

bark BARk bark... bark bark bark!!

(David's fallen into a well! Help, quick!)

9/13/2010 7:15 PM  
Blogger phetladda said...

so good

9/14/2010 9:54 AM  
Anonymous mila meira said...

Olá!!! Também sou uma amante dos desenhos.E gostei de conhecer um pouco sobree George Bridgman.Parabéns e já estou te seguindo!beijos!!!

9/16/2010 9:45 PM  
Blogger CJames said...

those heads are too big!

9/17/2010 6:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Reid,
PROVE IT. Indulge us with a link to your mastery.

9/17/2010 4:07 PM  
Anonymous Eric said...

Say what you want but Reid certainly injected some life into what was fast becoming a moribund topic.Shame no-one saw that.

9/20/2010 10:40 AM  
Blogger nathaniel sullivan said...

Great post. Thanks for this. Excellent post.

9/21/2010 9:35 AM  
Anonymous Mark Norseth said...

Re: Spelling of George's name, he wisely founded his own publishing company, Bridgman Publisher's Inc.

One interesting fact I ran across is that within his "Book of a Hundred Hands", many of the drawings were by his student, watercolorist Ogden Pleissner.

11/09/2010 1:28 PM  
Anonymous Veronica Sarno said...

My Dad, Frank LoCicero, studied under George Bridgman when he was a student at the Art Student's League in NYC in 1936. He became a professional commercial artist and worked for 40 years at Norcross Greeting Cards retiring as an art director. After my father passed away in 1997 we uncovered several of his life drawings dated 1936 when he was in art school which I had framed and hold a very important place in my heart.

Among my Dad's drawings were several rough sketches which Bridgman did to instruct my Dad on form and such and my father astutely had him sign the sketches. I had them framed as well and will treasure them always.

8/22/2011 11:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These are excellent drawings. What is the source for them? Are they published in a book, and if so, what is it?

12/02/2011 6:28 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Veronica Sarno-- That's great to hear. I'm glad you kept them and appreciate them.

Anonymous-- These are scans from the originals. They have not been reproduced in a book anywhere, to my knowledge. However, I believe that the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge has other life drawings from this same Bridgman class in their archives. They are not on display, but I am sure they are available to see by appointment.

12/07/2011 1:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I HAVE A 1924 COPY OF ONE OF BRIDGEMANS BOOKS THAT I JUST LOOK AT AND A NEWER 90s "COMPLETE " VERSION THAT I DRAW/ LEARN FROM. LOT S OF GOOD COMMENT S AND HELPFUL STUFF, THE WORK OF HIS STUDENTS IS SO GREAT TO SEE. I HEARD THAT COMIC BOOK ARTIST GIL KANE WAS A BIG FAN OF HIS .

2/28/2012 6:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a copy of Constructive Anatomy by George B. Bridgman, twelfth printing 1944. This hardcover copy has the cover title misspelled "Constrvive Anatomy"
and has handwritten notes by the author, with page adjustments as well. Though in poor condition all the pages are there nag gives an in sight to the author's thoughts prior to final printing. There is also a note on the inside that says "3000 copies as is. Paper to be furnished".
My father was one of Frank Reilly's assistants just prior to his death and was given many of Mr. Reilly's personal books and art.
Just wondering what it may be worth or who may want it.

7/31/2012 4:38 PM  
Anonymous Jeanean said...

Love these drawings. I was lucky enough to have a couple of "Bridgmans" studing at the Maryland Institute College of Art in the 70's. Abby Sangiamo and Peter Collier both wonderful instructors who taught the same style of constructive building as Bridgman. I have all of Bridgmans books and use some of his illustrations in my teaching. May I include some of these student drawings in my power point on Drawing the Human figure?

9/04/2014 8:42 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Jeanean-- Certainly. I would be very pleased if you can make use of them.

9/05/2014 1:45 PM  

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