Friday, September 17, 2010


Seymour Chwast

Some readers didn't like the traditional figure drawings in my previous post:
I can't believe such pointless work is still being appreciated today. Anyone can achieve the same thing in half a second with a camera...

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...
Some scolded that to qualify as genuine Art, "The act of interpretation should be in service of something more" than merely "perceiving form" with pencil or charcoal.

But I can't help it, I'm a sucker for perceiving form.  For me, the melodies that arise from the perception of form can rival the most elaborate intellectual construct.

Take the most famous figure painting of the 20th century:

Picasso wasn't merely capturing a likeness of the human form.  He deconstructed the form, moving in stages from mere likeness to the jagged underside of reality.  But deconstructing a row of human figures is nothing new.  Rembrandt did the same thing 300 years earlier:

Rembrandt's intent differed from Picasso's-- Rembrandt abstracted his figures in the service of speed and design rather than to express a sociological concepts-- but the outcome is just as scary:

I am not deaf to the conceptual potential of figure drawing. There is probably no subject more ripe than the human figure for conveying "something more" than mere form.

John Cuneo explains "Why I Went to Art School" from his book, nEuROTIC

Kathe Kollwitz used human forms as icons to convey strong political messages.

But whether an artist is merely trying to achieve a likeness or to convey "something more," every considered line represents a choice and therefore has meaning.  Sometimes it's difficult to find a line that is not "in the service of something more." Consider this phantom figure drawing by Rembrandt:

The background contains ten thousand lines

...yet none of those lines attracts our attention the way these few stray wispy lines do:

Physically the lines are all similar, all made with the same etching needle, but psychologically some lines weigh more than others. Rembrandt couldn't avoid conceptual content if he tried. And even if he succeeded, the viewer would still perceive it (but that's OK).

So when I hear that "real" Art requires something more than perceiving form with a stick of charcoal, I just can't agree. I look at the torrent of figure of drawings produced over the years, from ancient Egyptian walls to the earnest labors of George Bridgeman's students, to today's artists posting their latest sketch on their blog, and it makes me happy-- even without a conceptual "something more."
What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of the earth's sweet being in the beginning.
...............................-- Gerard Manley Hopkins



The Provensens boldly transformed the figure for their wonderful illustrations of children's books

Robert Fawcett used a dry felt tip marker to search for the rhythm in the bodies of construction workers

Jeffrey Catherine Jones found style and grace in the human form

Arkady Roytman posts a new drawing each day


CJames said...

Have you read Nathan Goldstein's book on figure drawing? His point is there is always as an expressive intent in any piece of art; the quality of the indivdual piece lies in the creator's awareness of his reaction to his subject, an awareness never complete, but ever evolving, coupled with skill and understanding enough to fully exploit the chosen medium in conveying that intent.
I'm sorry the previous post's drawings' beauty, lyricism and love of humanity evidenced in the attention to the human form's exterior realities and their psychological and I dare say spiritual implications eluded some people, even if most of them were proportionally dubious.

MORAN said...

Great Matisse and great Cuneo.

Bill said...

If I can actually perceive reality and accurately communicate that perception in such a way as other people can share in the experience of that perception, I think I've achieved something that is quite remarkable.
If other people want to reach for something beyond that, that would be most extraordinary -- and I applaud their ambition. But I withhold my applause until and unless I can see their success.

Anonymous said...

I only read part of the comments on the last post; the What Is Real Art debate is way up near the top of the list of arguments that tick me off hard and fast.

But now seems like a good time to mention that the other day a friend told me that she'd like to learn to "draw abstract so I don't have to learn anatomy," and I was too bewildered to even respond. Even if you value abstracted imagery over the strictly realistic, I don't believe you can abstract anything effectively without first knowing how to deal with it realistically.

The Art of M said...

Wow, just wow. I can't believe what some people say in here. Yeesh! I have a camera too but it's not so good at making drawings!
What QueenCardigan said was not a shock to me. I've been hearing stuff like that since I was in design school. No need to draw! We have computers now!
Seriously though I LOVE this blog and would also love to chat with you! Feel free to drop me a line through me blog!

Tom said...

Hi David your essay reminds me of Leo Steinberg’s essay on Rodin. Steinberg wrote that an artist can try and say something important and big about the world, or he can, like Rodin, try and bring the clay in his hands to life, which Steinberg concludes, is the more profound choice of the two.

Or as Marcus Antonius observed, "Nature delights not in anything so much as to alter all things, and present them under another form.”

T Arthur Smith said...

I had an etching professor who stated the etching, now posted here, is not an original Rembrandt, as it's not at all the process he is known for, building up an image uniformly throughout. He said it's an unfinished copy.

Fryewerk said...

I usually don't read the comments, but it's hard do believe anyone would, to use vulgar slang, "crap" on the drawings posted last time. They're beautiful and hardly photographic. Not sure why anyone would bother to visit this site if they didn't have some appreciation of that kind of work.

Huda Tula said...

Hi! I'm your new reader.

I'm from Indonesia (and My english isn't really good). but I enjoy to spend my time here.
I don't really understand about art. but i just like it...and I like drawing.

and i like this blog.

jpleon said...

Thank you for the insight. That Matisse drawing is a real stunner!
On the subject of what is "art" vs. " not art" I think Milton Glaser says it best in the intro to his book, Art is Work:
".....There seems to be much confusion about what we mean when we use the word art. I have a recommendation. We eliminate the word art and replace it with the word work and develop the following descriptions:
1. Work that goes beyond its functional intention and moves us in deep and mysterious ways we call great work.
2. Work that is conceived and executed with elegance and rigor we call good work.
3. Work that meets its intended need honestly and without pretense we call simply work.
4. Everything else, the sad and shoddy stuff of daily life, can come under the heading of bad work.
This simple change will eliminate anxiety for thousands of people who worry about whether they are artists or not, but this is not its most significant consequence. More importantly, it can restore art to a central, useful activity in daily life---something for which we have been waiting for a very long while."

Lipov said...

A topic as a reply to my statements? Should I feel flattered or am I just being exposed as the biggest douchebag on this blog? Anyway, the reason why I didnt reply in previous topic is that I didnt feel that the feedback provided me with the material that I could find useful for reforming my aesthetic criterias and judgements. And I think theres a philosophical or even cultural (as Reid mentioned) gap between us that will prevent us from reaching the same point.

In previous topic, you made an analogy with Marshall amplifiers. Were you saying is that I have a dioptry? Does my hypermetropia prevents me from seeing the smallest, subtlest details? What if I put glasses on? What if a person, who lost the ability to hear delicate sounds, gets himself a BTE aid? Does chamber music played on marshall amplifiers looses its delicate sounds? I know what you wanted to say, but you used a wrong example. My supposed inability to appreciate delicate subtlety wouldnt be a consequence of amplifiers, it would be a result of unsubtle rock music itself. It wouldnt be the loudness of amplifiers that would damage my ability to hear, it would be the lack of artistic integrity of rock music itself that would demolish my aesthetic criterias, no matter what the loudness of it. My level of intellectuality, my lack of emotional maturity, my low aesthetic comprehensiveness would prevent me to detect subtleties, not my physical limitations.

I dont think thats the case tho, I am an aducated artist so you too can stop labeling me with premade stereotypes. There is always a possibility that I might be wrong, but I surely cannot be reduced to some random simpleton whoose opinions grew out of trash of western entertainment industry (since you mentioned Bisley, loud concerts, etc.). I can analyze my opinions.

Regarding your current topic, I consider Rembrandt a genius, I love his drawings and I mentioned that in your previous topic. Drawings of Rembrandt, Matisse, Picasso have nothing in common with student work from your previous topic. My camera cannot capture the emotional, atmospheric, expressive quialities of these great artists, but It can capture the emptiness and stiffness of those students studies. The fact that those student drawings were drawn in a certain style of the time, it does not mean that this learnable methodological approach those students took, should also be translated as truly emotional. Rembrandt felt what he saw, while those students didnt trully feel - they liked how drawings of people who truly feel look like, so they imitated the visual appereance of those drawings. When it comes to great artists there is a substance under their personal style, something living under the shell, but when it comes to that student work, all I can see is a style, a shell, whith nothing alive inside. Thats what cameras can capture without a problem. Not the style, but the lack of liveliness.

Anonymous said...

Not fair, these drawings are much more advanced than the student stuff you posted on the last entry. Except for that last one. Arkady Roytman sucks.

Anonymous said...

I loved the figure drawings. The lines were gorgeous, as well as the use of value and the wonderful proportions. Don't feel like you can't have similar great posts just because it isn't jazzy enough to suit some.

It's not like you said this is the only kind of art. Who says this can't be art? The whole "what is art" discussion makes me sleepy...

David Apatoff said...

CJames, it sounds like I would agree with Nathan Goldstein although I suspect that a significant part of that "expressive intent" is contributed by the perceptions of the viewer (whether accurate or not).

MORAN, I agree of course. That Matisse drawing is one of the best examples I have ever seen of working your way through all the discipline and rigor of those George Bridgman academic drawings and coming out the other side totally free and nonvertebrate. That Cuneo drawing is brilliant too, although in a different way. Spend some time with it, studying the subtleties of those women waiting in line. Absolutely fabulous.

Bill, I concur that the discipline of understanding and conveying form can be a remarkable achievement. Far from being a mechanical reproductive process, for me it is an ocean deep and wide. A person could get lost in it for years.

David Apatoff said...

Queencardigan-- I'm not surprised that your friend would jump to the conclusion that he or she did. I fear that the majority of the art-viewing public shares that same misperception. But I agree with you, that abstract stuff becomes vapid real quick if you haven't paid your dues.

The Art of M-- thanks for coming by. I will definitely do so.

Tom, I will check out that Steinberg essay, thanks. Rodin is a real favorite of mine, a true force of nature working as close to the primacy of experience as he could.

David Apatoff said...

T Arthur Smith-- I wouldn't know for sure. It is certainly included in the authoritative Gary Schwartz compilation of Rembrandt's complete etchings and it is certainly a cool drawing. Beyond that, I only use it for the proposition that because of the inescapable psychological significance of a line, a few lines can outweigh thousands of similar lines.

JF-- many thanks

Huda Tula-- welcome all the way from Indonesia! We are so pleased to have you here. I hope things are well there, and that you will come back often.

jpleon-- Thanks. I loved Glaser's book when I first read it, and you have reminded me that it is time for another visit.

Prad Savania said...

Hello There! How’s it going? Interesting post/blog indeed!

I really think that you’ll enjoy viewing my shoe design BlogSpot! All my designs happen to be hand-drawn too! Check it out and let me know what you think? Take care

David Apatoff said...

Lipov, I would be the biggest douchebag of all if I used this post as a counterattack on comments that you or Reid or others made on the last post. I have not been in a position to respond further to those comments or to post anything new for a couple of weeks, but I wasn't trying to abandon the topic and I am back now.

When I dropped out of that dialogue I was frustrated by the limitations of the blog comment format, especially our inability to heap a lot of images on the table (as they seemed more relevant than the words we kept trading). Today's selection of images was in part to slake that thirst, but if truth be told the vast majority of these posts (including this one) begin with a simple urge to share some really cool pictures. This was not an effort to get the last word.

Whether you take my Marshall amplifier analogy literally (to suggest physical impairment) or metaphorically (to suggest cultural desensitization), I think it is fair to say that the aesthetic of our age is one of souped up expectations. These expectations make it difficult for the quieter, subtler art forms to retain an audience. I agree that I was wrong to presume this was the explanation for your position without knowing more about you. I do think your insistence that an artist must capture something "more" than the subtle curve of a neck or the taper of a limb is consistent with the group that needs blinking lights and dolby sound on their art.

I don't draw the same line you do between Matisse and the Bridgman students. Sure, I know which one I'd prefer to hang on my wall, but they both seem to me to be legitimate parts of that torrent of images of our form through the ages ("all this juice...").

kev ferrara said...

Hey David,

Great post. Love all the variety and quality.

As much as I question the profundity of Picasso or Matisse (generally I find the verbal hype surrounding these fellas to be a way for "intellectuals" to defend/legitimize the cartoons they like, as against the cartoons they don't) I am certainly glad to see the graphic innovation. Especially when laid out alongside more reserved works. The freedom/joy/expression vs. integrity/seriousness thing becomes palpable. (Although, as was pointed out last time out, expression can be quiet and subtle and is no less an expression for being so.)

"I do think your insistence that an artist must capture something "more" than the subtle curve of a neck or the taper of a limb is consistent with the group that needs blinking lights and dolby sound on their art."

Au contraire: The cry for "something more" than "the curve of the neck" is rooted in Romanticism and dates back about 250 years, maybe 500 years, or maybe back to antiquity.

The late romantics (symbolists) found themselves in a changed era, and it seems quickly saw there was great advertising merit in using the cry for "deeper" as a cudgel to bark their way into the marketplace. And this mantle was heartily taken up by the first wave of 20th century modernists, who were all taught by the symbolist generation.

The first artist to really make a dent by shouting "nothing more at all" was Whistler, with his art for art's sake defiance. In that sense, he was the first postmodernist.

Ruskin's criticism of Whistler, (that he was throwing a pot of paint at the gallery attendee), was really the first among many iterations to come of that full-throated cultural call of the mild, "turn that shit down!"

It is inconceivable that Ruskin could have imagined that Nocturnes and Arrangements would eventually be replaced by Takin' Care of Business among other degradations of the human spirit. Poor JR would be crying out for Whistler's "shallowness" if he were alive today.


Anonymous said...

Hey man, I am just glad you are here...I was starting to wonder if something had happened!

Any excuse to look at Cuneo and Jones in the same post is good enough for me.


Francis Vallejo said...


Unknown said...

"Art is the transference of emotion from one person to another." -Tolstoy

I just love that. David, thanks for such an inspiring blog.

To Anonymous regarding Arkady Roytman's work. At what point does it suck. Ten years ago? Tomorrow? After he has continued searching for his voice over a lifetime of making art? Considering that you've chosen to throw stones anonymously and that we can't determine who you are or the value of your words, we'll choose just to refer to you as you will always be- just one of the anonymous.

Arkady's commitment and drive inspire me. Thanks Arkady for that.

David Apatoff said...

Anonymous wrote: "Not fair, these drawings are much more advanced than the student stuff you posted on the last entry. Except for that last one. Arkady Roytman sucks."

I agree that these drawings are more advanced. You'd expect them to be. But if these drawings persuade you that merely "perceiving form" without anything more can still qualify as art, then these drawings are at least on the same spectrum with the Bridgman class.

As for your reaction to Arkady Roytman's drawing, I disagree. It looks so free and loose but it contains a lot of wisdom. Roytman thoughtfully gave the line of that jaw and the line of that shoulder greater emphasis, which were wise choices. He understood exactly how that sternocleidomastoid muscle worked and dispatched it in one brisk stroke. He understood what was happening with that brow, cheekbone and hip bone, and simplified them. It isn't easy to convey that much information with such a light touch, dissipating into the freedom of the hair. Perhaps most importantly, I think the drawing is a very nice little design. Upon reflection, I think it holds up well in this company. Is there anything you'd like to say about why it doesn't?

Anonymous said...

It looks like I've insulted one of Sterling Hundley's buddies. How amusing. What does it matter how long he's been "searching for his voice"? Give me a break. I love how hack artists are always sticking up for each other, not that you're anywhere near as bad as Roytman is. And your recent work is definitely more interesting to me than what I've seen in the past, for whatever that's worth.

David, I agree with you on the good points about Roytman's drawing but calling it "a lot of wisdom" is a bit of a stretch. After taking a look at his more finished work and his sketchbook stuff, it's clear that we're hardly talking about a great draughtsman. Especially not near the level of Rembrandt, Picasso, Rodin or Matisse. The Roytman drawing looks like your basic semi-talented Egon Schiele imitator that you see in art schools. And he can't draw hands and feet to save his life.

David Apatoff said...

Kev-- thanks for the refresher course on the relevant art history. I take your point.

It's interesting that for the symbolists something "more" consisted of a layer of content that viewers were educated to read via complex iconography, but today something "more" is often just a higher decibel level. The current generation is impatient with black and white movies, just as the next generation will be impatient with color movies that aren't 3D. When Fred Astaire filmed a dance routine he insisted that a single camera track the entire routine. Today when Lady GaGa films a dance it has been chopped into tiny snippets changing angles every second, preferably punctuated by fireworks and digital enhancements. With this kind of artistic competition, it's no wonder that many lack the patience to explore the subtler virtues of a charcoal drawing.

David Apatoff said...

Ken-- the practice of law is a jealous mistress. Sorry for the disappearing act.

Francis Vallejo-- welcome! It sounds like you see the things I see in this array of drawings.

Sterling Hundley-- Thanks, Sterling. Your opinion means a lot to me. I don't claim to know Arkady Roytman's work well, and I may have done him a disservice by pulling his name into these shark infested waters, but I am impressed, as you are, with the discipline and drive that lead him to post a new figure drawing every day. Not every one of them is a Rembrandt but I like some of them quite a lot and I think that he, as well as George Bridgman's students from the previous post, belong in the tradition I have tried to describe here.

David Apatoff said...

Anonymous, I haven't spent enough time with Mr. Roytman's entire oeuvre to vouch for everything he has done. If you tell me he's "not near the level of Rembrandt, Picasso, Rodin or Matisse" I won't argue with you. But if you"re willing to put aside the search for the next Rembrandt, perhaps you will discover as I did that by cruising through his figure drawings, you can enjoy some really nice drawing (priced far more reasonably than Rembrandt's). I could easily do a whole post with examples of his figure drawings I like, but that would be placing a bull's eye on him for some of the rougher traffic around here, and that would not be fair to Mr. Roytman (who did not ask for any of this and probably doesn't even know it is taking place).

Raul Allen said...

Love what you do here David. It is great to see this exchange of opinions and obviously all this great art.

phetladda said...

so good.

Anonymous said...

I'm much more impressed with Arkady Roytman's tireless self-promotion despite the uneven quality of his work. I'd have to be pretty shameless to upload every little scribble I've ever done and then charge money for them. Someone like that probably enjoys any kind of attention he gets because it could always lead to another sale.

Anonymous said...

I'm much more impressed with Arkady Roytman's tireless self-promotion despite the uneven quality of his work. I'd have to be pretty shameless to upload every little scribble I've ever done and then charge money for them. Someone like that probably enjoys any kind of attention he gets because it could always lead to another sale.

JSL said...

I like how you contrast John Cuneo and Robert Fawcett with Rembrandt and Matisse. No pretensions, no restrictions, just a pure drawing smackdown.

David Apatoff said...

Anonymous, I think we've pretty much beaten this dead horse, except that on the subject of "uneven quality" you might want to take off after Jeffrey Catherine Jones or one of a dozen other well-established artists instead.

The gap between Jones' best work and her worst work at the early stages of her career was absolutely stunning to me. When she tried to skate by on style alone she could be breathtakingly bad, and sometimes her "happy accidents" didn't materialize fast enough to meet a deadline. Yet, here she is with a terrific drawing next to Matisse and Picasso. Go figure.

Cayce Goldberg said...

I just want one of these clowns with a camera to sit down and attempt to make a drawing from life. There is an immense amount of skill in the drawings of Bridgeman's class.

I'd ask you this - can a camera create an image from imagination? Absolutely not. Drawing with form is an incredibly valuable tool when you are composing films, animations, comics, and even paintings. The ability to imagine a space and portray it on paper is rare and coveted.

Anyone who would trash talk good figure drawing is about as ignorant as they come.

Manuel Furnic said...

>I'm much more impressed with Arkady >Roytman's tireless self-promotion >despite the uneven quality of his >work.

I can't say I'm a big fan, but a man is entitled to ask for whatever he wants for his work, and to receive whatever he is offered. He seems a pretty decent draughtsman, and I wouldn't take the trouble to go out of my way to spit on a man who did me no harm, but then again I'm no goddamn' critic either.

One good thing about those drawing -a-day schemes, they cost just a bit or two on them tubes, and if nothing else keeps a fellow too busy drawing to go around spoutin' nonsense about their neighbours.

Back to work on the farm now, gotta make me a scarecrow to ward of them city folks who can't keep their mouths shut or their hands busy.

Anonymous said...

Before anyone, and I mean ANYONE (especially someone who does not have the guts to sign their own name to their rants), critiques someone for posting a drawing a day, I think they should give it a shot themselves. It is not easy, especially in this age of having to do so much for so little remuneration (check the want ads and see how many businesses are looking for free work, cheap work, or 'interns only').
Doing a drawing a day (and I assume the guy does much more than that) is pretty admirable and obviously a good tool to further yourself along.
This is the one thing about the internet that always infuriates gives dorks who probably have no where else to vent their spleens to do so anonymously. But hey, that's just me. And I am...

Ken Meyer Jr.

Anonymous said...

David Apatoff said...
"In the most famous figure painting of the 20th century, Picasso went beyond capturing a likeness.....I agree that these drawings are more advanced."

I really don't understand the context of your word choices "beyond" and "more advanced". Picasso is quoted as having said,

“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child”

I won't even comment on the absurdity of the first part of that quote, but the second part, "to paint like a child", suggests to me that regression, not advancement, was Picasso's goal. I see regression in his drawings along with the influence of tribal art. I can understand the use of words such as "regression" or "alternative", but not your word choices.

So what exactly are the "advanced" aspects of Picasso's drawing, pray tell?

JSL said...

I checked out Arkady Roytman's drawings. He is very talented and I like his spirit too. Anonymous is a fuckhead. Ignore him.

Unknown said...

David, I am honored and humbled to be included among the great artists you featured in your post. And thanks to you and Sterling and others for the kind words about my work.

I agree with Angel (ahem, Anonymous) about not being in the same league as the artists featured and having a weakness for drawing hands and feet. And a few other attacks he raised also have some validity to them. My only defense about posting every one of my drawings, the good and the bad, is to showcase that it takes a lot of bad drawings to get to the good ones. I'm sure Rembrandt and Matisse had their share of awful work (and maybe they were smart to destroy them) before they got to their level. I wish more bad work was available from great artists so that we could see where each and every one of them started and where they ultimately ended up with their skills. I doubt I'll ever get to their level, but that doesn't mean I'll stop trying.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

No Angel,

I've never met Arkady. I interjected on his behalf because I can relate to being at the center of such banal commentary. No one willing to pursue such arduous endeavors should ever be the subject of ridicule by those who aren't willing.

It's interesting- I decided early on to not let my jealousies get the best of me. There are always two ways to go with such things. It can burn in your gut and you can ask why him, why not me? Or you can accept it as a challenge and be inspired by the accomplishments of others. Which are you? As long as your remain anonymous and choose to tear down others to your level instead of climbing to theirs, you will always the latter.
If you ever need advice, all you have to do is email or call; but please, come as yourself.


Just another hack whose new work you like much better than the old work, if that's worth anything. aka
Sterling Hundley

Anonymous said...

Arkady, there's really no need to defend posting your scribbles on the net and charging money for them. It's no great crime. I just find it cheesy. Your justification for posting them sounds more like a rationalization.

Sterling, I take it back, calling you a hack is a bit of a stretch. However, you really come off as a douchebag for acting like a babysitter, telling people not to ridicule artists on the internet. Since I'm an anonymous nobody, what the hell does it matter? You might want to realize that there are no such things as "shoulds" in real life. I read your reaction to the criticism you got here when David posted some of your work and laughed. Why would I want advice from someone who gets shaken up by internet comments? I have no idea why you wouldn't just ignore an anonymous nobody like me. You must have assumed that Arkady is as fragile as you are. People like you have nothing to teach me about anything I value. I don't care how many awards you win, so no thanks for the offer.

Really, why must the internet of all places be just another tea party? Can you answer that?

David, maybe one day Arkady will be a great artist, who knows. But do you think great artists are created by having sissified babysitters like Sterling Hundley deflecting all criticism for them? I hardly think so. And remember, I'm just an anonymous nobody whose opinion carries no weight. :-)

Anonymous said...

Arkady's posting was an example of real class , as was Sterling's .

What a textbook troll - yet anonymous did provoke some response .


Anonymous said...

Anonymous appears to have appointed him/herself the Internet babysitter by telling us what artists should and shouldn't be posting. It brings to mind, "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like." It's fine to share your opinions about what you like or don't like, but phrases like, " sucks" don't reveal much in the way of instructive critique and pretty much says much more about the commenter than the thing being critiqued.

Ultimately, we artists gain tremendously through the courage of others to post their work. It's a far cheaper and quicker way to see art than to travel to museums. The internet is about commerce and sharing for crying out loud and thank goodness for that. Not every artist can get into a gallery and the web gives us a much wider audience than the small group of gallery trotters in our little hometowns.

Ignore the trolls. I know I should have, too.

And quit with the "douchebag" insult as well. You're slandering a large portion of your followers - women.

Anonymous said...

No, snoringdog. I forbid any of my followers from douching. It is strictly against the protocols. There are much healthier ways of staying fresh "down there".

Damndirtyape said...

>> I just want one of these clowns with a camera to sit down and attempt to make a drawing from life. There is an immense amount of skill in the drawings of Bridgeman's class.


Anyone who would trash talk good figure drawing is about as ignorant as they come.

I totally agree - I think there must be a lot of secretly frustrated and disgruntled life drawing class failures on here because the utter discounting of skill and ability required to implement mere "mechanical" Bridgman caliber drawings from some posters is stupefying.

One of the first life lessons I learned in art school was the same people shitting on "realistic" drawings or people with great technical skill were the same ones who tried and failed to produce such works themselves.

Anonymous said...

Look who's found their voice again .

J. Drake

raphael said...

i do have a question - im probably reading too much into the whole thing, but when you write:

The cry for "something more" than "the curve of the neck" is rooted in Romanticism

id counter that with romanticism being a reaction to the excessive rationalization of the enlightenment. people like kant made some incredible and astute statement regarding therational workings of the mind/consciousness. its just that they focussed so much on rationality that it needed the romantics to come along, pointing towards emotion & direct experience, and say "hey there, just look what your theory is missing" - and they did so with good reason: a truckload of stuff just does not stem from rationality. trying to backlink them into it (as kant did in his ethics) leads to descriptions that completely miss the thing they are about.

applied to art, and ideas about art, id say that the basic romantic idea should be to include everything that there is to artwork, not just isolating one (rational) facet and pretend that all relevant meaning hinges on this one facet.
basically, romanticism would be to just look at the damn drawing and see what happens. :) at least in my opinion.

its not "something more than necks curves" as in "embed something in it", but more like "go back to the fount, to where all of the artwork is, instead of isolating just the technicalities of accurate neck curves"

its pretty much a possibility that this idea went over the top at some point, though, resulting in ideas that eschew all and everything in favor of just emotion - this could be what you describe symbolism to be like, hiding meaning accoding to certain formulaic standards.

i guess i really dont disagree with anything you say, since this overdoing would indeed be rooted in romanticism, just going a bit too far for its own (and the resulting artworks) good.

it just sounded like you giving romanticism a bad rap, which i see is purely the "flavour" i got when reading this part of your comment.
i just wanted to ask for clarification and re your opinion of romanticism, since that topic is of interest to me.



JonInFrance said...

I just love the Provensens' illustrations for Myths and Legends

kev ferrara said...


As an artist, I am a Romantic. People think romantically and therefore they respond to art created according to the principles of Romanticism. This makes Romanticism an excellent science for engineering human emotions. And that kind of engineering information is valuable to the artist.

It should be pointed out that Kant was a foundational thinker in the German Idealist movement. And the German Idealist movement directly coincides with Romanticism in art. The similarities in thought are endless when you get into it, therefore I assume it was all the same movement.

A great deal of brilliant logic and scientific inquiry arises from German Idealist/Neoplatonist/Romantic thinking and scholarship. And I see no problem including Romantic and Idealist thought under the banner of Enlightenment evolution.

The great difference, which is only one of taxonomy in my estimation, is that what Romantics chalked up to spirituality, soul, and mysticism, scientists chalked up to imagination, psychology, and suggestion... in order to remove any whiff of the supernatural from the conversation. The underlying technology of effect is the same, but the culture changed, and the names changed as a result. But the names only.

raphael said...

thanks, kev :) much appreciated.

and i do agree that what in science may be called, for example, an "emergent epiphenomenon of neuron activity in the human brain" would be called soul by someone else. what is meant with the descriptions is the same thing, the question is which description fits the thing it describes best.

reductionistic tendencies, no matter whether rationalistical, empiristical or whatever else, usually fall rather short at something or other, which is why i think romanticism, as a movement improving upon the enlightenment groundwork, is very much a conceptual high point in history of ideas.

kev ferrara said...

Yes, I agree.

There is a slew of terms that have been abandoned or misappropriated or misinterpreted from the Romantic era that have yet to be replaced by some equivalent modern term or corrected back to their original meanings so as to be usefully discussed. This has resulted in a loss of knowledge in some areas, even as the gains in science and technology have been extraordinary.

TM said...

"I can't believe such pointless work is still being appreciated today. Anyone can achieve the same thing in half a second with a camera..."

Yawn. Nobody with the skill to do work like that would ever say this. As always, it's easier to tear down something you can't do and call it pointless than to work hard to build skill. That will never change.

People who can do this see beauty in the human form that most people can't understand or even perceive. And cameras can't do it, folks. That's why there is still passionate and exquisite representational art 150 years after the camera arrived. Calling it pointless is just trumpeting your own ignorance. Nothing done with that much effort, devotion and passion is pointless.

David Apatoff said...

Raul Allen and Phetladda-- many thanks.

Manuel Furnic-- thanks for a very welcome and healthy contribution. I hope you write again when you're done plowing the lower 40.

Ken Meyer, Jr.-- I agree with you about that drawing-a-day business. Easier said than done.

David Apatoff said...

Etc, etc-- I don't think there is progress in art the same way there is progress in science, but I still believe we can sometimes describe an artist or style as "advanced" if it pushes things forward into the next cycle. Besides, I think it is fair to say that Picasso was reacting presciently to the 20th century. The artists recognized, before the scientists and the politicians, that the sun had set on the age of reason.

I like some of Picasso's drawings very much, and although he often draws in a child-like manner, I don't think he achieves it by regression, but by going forward with destruction. I have grappled on this blog many times with the difference between good child-like art and bad child-like art. (See for example Child-like art can be extremely sophisticated.

David Apatoff said...

Arkady Roytman-- Thanks for being a good sport, Arkady. I should have tried contacting you to alert you that I was going to take liberties with one of your drawings. I enjoy your nude-a-day site and I agree with J. Drake that your response was very classy.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes it is ignorance that pushes things forward into the next cycle. If prescience of 20th century art is a standard, then Duchamp's urinal is the winner in my opinion.

Kate Si said...

I take photos and I draw. Whoever says that a camera can do the same thing as a pencil has clearly never put thought into using either one or the other. That's like saying oil paints do the exact same thing as sculpting clay.

Lipov said...

"""I do think your insistence that an artist must capture something "more" than the subtle curve of a neck or the taper of a limb is consistent with the group that needs blinking lights and dolby sound on their art."""

I guess I still havent manage to explain myself. "Something more" is not necessarly a philosophical or political implication, "something more" could just as well be found in a depiction of a human limb. I like how Rembrandt drew branches in the wind and wrinkes on the water, there is nothing philosophical or political about it. Its just a drawing of a plant. But while everyone can draw branches pointing to the left and circles on the water, Rembrandt manages to make you feel the light breeze that is leaning the branches, he makes you hear the sound of a river running. His line feels organic, his figures look alive.
Those student drawings look like dead observational drawings, factological depictions of some objects that happen to look like humans. They could just as well be refrigerators. I dont see any subtle curves of a neck, I see curves that form a neck. The curves are drawn in a certain style that is trying to offer us a sense of gracefulness, or gentleness, a bit of romantic poeticization. They could use the same approach on a refrigerator, the same gentle lines, soft shading, the same style that those drawings have, and the refrigerator would end up looking just as "subtle" as those nudes. They lack the sense of inner life. I have nothing against subtle curves of a neck as long as they are in fact subtle. Photorealistic representation and stereotypic style does not equal emotional subtlety in my book.

I dont think its me that needs blinking lights and dolby sound on their art, I think some of you are not capable of distinguishing the offects or tricks that draftsmanships methodologies use to emulate the true, sincere characteristics.

kev ferrara said...

Lipov... the difference here is between we who say "some expression and poetry exists in the drawings from bridgman's class" and you who say "no expression and only fake poetry inheres to the drawings from bridgman's class."

If you think being more definitive makes you a more subtle thinker or gives your opinion any more validity, you probably need to get out more.

Unknown said...

David- Francis Vallejo has been a supporter here for a while, and if beautiful drawings of the human form appeal to you, his work is certainly worth the time.

anon/angel- I knew what you would say before you said it. I wish you all the best with your endeavors and I hope that you can summon the same abandon to share your pictures as you have with your words.

Anonymous said...

What do you know about my endeavors? How condescending.

Anonymous said...

I know your endeavors at trolling are laughable .


Anonymous said...

Yeah, I know I'm pretty weak at trolling.

Oh well....

Carnifex said...

what i don't like about the figure drawings in the previous post is that it seems they're all taylored to be the same rendering style, and subject (given that it's a class,of course). the artists in this post all have an unique way of tackling the human figure, which the ones in the previous post seemingly don't. it seems very restrictive. most of all that the previous ones are just *studies* in contrast to these, which are "something more" in that they are more of an individual expression. i can't really pack into words what i'm trying to say. maybe you understand despite that?

Reid said...

Now THIS is what I was talking about.Here we have some very fine examples of real drawing.These have flow and life and
expression,just what those lifeless Bridgman student pieces lacked.The Roytman drawing is excellent as is the Rodin and of course the Rembrandt.
I don't know what all this 'trolling' is about or the pathetic taunts of those too stupid to understand what I was saying, but these posts are drawing at its best eloquent not exercises in pencil taxidermy.