Saturday, December 29, 2007


I can't think of a better way to end 2007 than with this lovely drawing by our old friend Rembrandt.

This little drawing makes me wonder why Franz Kline and Robert Motherwell thought it was necessary to invent abstract expressionism.  

What an astonishing drawing and what a wonderful world we live in!

Happy new year to all of you!


Anonymous said...

It may well have been drawings like this one that inspired Kline and Motherwell to abandon representation altogether - they saw that the beauty of an artwork need not be tied to what it depicts. (Especially useful if your rendering skills aren't up to snuff.)

Happy New Year to you, too, David - and thank you for your insightful and thought-provoking posts.

Anonymous said...

Have been enjoying your blog of late. Keep it up in 2008!

All the best,

David Glassey said...

This episode of Simon Schama's Power of Art on Rothko is a fascinating look at an abstractionist. It's on YouTube but since it was a public television broadcast I don't think it is a problem posting the link here.

A shot across the bow at Kline and could pick worse abstractionists to fire at. All this criticism of modernism is starting to sound shrill and defensive, particularly when it's only substantiated by aesthetic differences and a seemingly bitter opinion of galleries and not necessarily on history. You may as well go back to Turner if you want to blame someone for abstraction, his abstract watercolours come in over a hundred years before the abstract expressionist movement. That is a nice drawing by Rembrandt though. Rothko loved Rembrandt.

spacejack said...

I love Rembrandt drawings. Thanks for posting a high-res scan of that.

Anonymous said...

Stunning as always.

A happy new year to you David. Thanks for the wonderful art and insights.

David Apatoff said...

Thanks, emp, antony, spacejack and thomas. I appreciate your writing, and i wish you each a happy 2008!

David, I have obviously conveyed the wrong impression. I have tried in earlier postings to say that I love abstract art as well as other modern and post-modern art. That includes not just Rothko and Motherwell, but Christo, Beuys, Duchamp and a host of others. I am also a huge fan of Turner. But these artists have no shortage of sycophants, idolators and graduate students writing adoring articles and monographs about them. If I sound shrill when talking about modern art, I suspect it is due to two strongly held beliefs:

First, I think that Rothko and Motherwell are no more talented than a number of contemporaneous illustrators. Yet, Rothko and Motherwell are sold for millions of dollars and honored in museums, while illustrators are sold for thousands, if at all, and largely ignored. I do not begrudge Rothko and Motherwell their success, but I believe some illustrators (and other artists) are under appreciated because of snobbery and ignorance. I have a real problem with that.

Second, I believe that there are a great many modern artists who are far less talented than Rothko and Motherwell but who get away with murder because of the absence of standards and taste in contemporary art. I have a real problem with that as well.

One always has to guard against sounding shrill, and your point is a good reminder that one should speak with great precision if one is going to make accusations. Thanks for writing.

Mark said...

First off, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you David, I've enjoyed reading your blog since discovering it and will continue to as long as you keep posting.

Now to this post, I love Rembrandt's drawings I think I get as much if not more from them as his finished works. I not really a fan of pure abstaction, but I think some abstaction serves a purpose when it is a part of a balanced composition.

Mahendra Singh said...

What I like most about your blog is that after viewing it, 99% of the time, I wish to do nothing else but get busy drawing more and more and more.

Keep up the good work. Krazy Kat is double-plus good, his inking is soooo liquid!!!! Inking good, peoples talking no-good, yeah!

Diego Fernetti said...

Wonderful piece. I wonder if these drawings were as appreciated at the times that Rembrandt lived, or if they were just considered doodles. It's said that many of the classical painter's sketches were dumped regularly at their times, just as common studio garbage. Cases like Leonardo's notebooks were rare at the time.

Alexey Linkov said...

Hello David, I just wanted to drop you an e-mail but couldnt find where I can do it. Anyways

The pictures you have on your blog have links to hi-res versions but it doesnt work. When I click to see the larger image I get 404. Too bad coz I would love to see those.

Second. Right now Im researching American magazine (read commercial) illustration of 1990-2000 period. As I like your point on modern art and modern illustration, Im curious to hear who you consider to be the most influential illustrator of 90s and the most interesting one for you personally.

David Apatoff said...

Thanks, Mark-- I enjoy your comments and contributions. Happy new year to you, too!

Mahendra, I couldn't hope for a better reaction!

Dfernetti-- a lot of his drawings were on odd scraps of paper, and I am sure many of them were used quite pragmatically. But they were sure beeeyootiful.

Alexey, you can write me at I would be happy to help out in any way I can. If you are getting a 404 response on any of these pictures, please let me know.

Jason Waskey said...

Just a simple 'Happy New Year!' and a thanks for the site, and the insight.

Happy New Year!