I have read a couple of pages of these every day for the last couple of months and a few things are starting to happen in my brain… weird wiggly things which are unbidden but slowly beginning to take shape!
VITAMIN D2: The drawings in here range from so skillfull it’s truly mind boggling to almost concept art with little traditional skill.
However all of them are ‘justified’ by a page of esoteric text.
It’s as if they are each a different ‘visual’ language invented by the creator, be it discussing identity, or the nature of art, or time, or inner yearnings… and that without the translation ‘manual’ at the side they would be meaningless.
Within their own visual ‘linguistic’ world they are poetry of the highest order but outside of it they are impenitrable.
They are more works of discourse or polemic than drawings. In the sense that drawings are accessible to everybody… be they realistic, surrealist, futurist, impressionistic or aesthetic – to use a few boxes. While for discourse you have to be trained and understand the language.
I believe all art involves ideas and what it is to be human (rather than craft , design or pattern making which is pleasing but doesn’t connect, either to our subconscious or conscious mind, in the same deep way) – artists can paint emotions in expressionism or the visual reality of light flickering through leaves, in impressionism. But what all art has in commen is it’s universality – the lonliness of Hopper’s characters speak to anybody who’s ever lived and worked in a modern city… Dega’s pastels are both aesthetic abstract (geometric and colour) paintings that reach inside us as well as capturing the emotion and frisson of a voyeuristic moment and a glimpse of hidden narratives.
The other end of art is when it is so personal that it holds meaning only for the creator. It is impenetrable.
For me the drawings in D2 are not art because they are not universal (however interesting they are in the context of the descriptions, which decode their language, and therefore illuminate their meaning). They are closed worlds – like lost languages – accessible only to the initiated.
That said I’m enjoying the book and will carry on to the end.
The Art Book: This is fantastic!!! I love the way it zips about in time so an artist from 2012 might be next to somebody from 1385. Because it’s alphabetic (surnames of the painters) and not in time order or by movement.
This is the third book like this that I’ve read cover to cover over the last 10 years and suddenly all the fragments are starting to come together like a net of lights… rather than being linear (footprints in time slowly plodding from pre-history to the present day – each generation progressing in skill till it all exploded with the industrial revolution and the invention of photography) they are all starting to connecting up into one whole.
Sorry, I can’t explain it any better than that!!!!
Also, I’m beginning to notice structure in paintings… artistic language??? Shapes, colour, gesture etc. It must all be soaking in and now some of it is now it’s becoming visible, which is really exciting.
And when I go for a walk I’m starting to ‘see’ things differently.
Light falls, waves ripple – the nearest I can explain it is instead of ‘hearing’ noise I can suddenly hear birds sing and twigs crackle.
It’s like the visual world is suddenly coming alive!
Anatomy for Artists: (by Barrington Barber) This is not as useful as I thought… it’s intersting but I’m never going to learn all the bones and muscles and the covering of flesh is so different and varied in real people that it makes what’s underneath useful but not essential.
And the drawings are poor – they are (no doubt) anatomically correct – but I find them hard to look at as they have no ‘life’.
What I’ve found myself doing (and this may be much more useful when I come to people in section 4) is getting a blunt pencil and drawing over the sketches. Imagining I’m doing them and trying to see the limbs.
I’ve also traced over a few.
Again, as with a tree… or a mountain… every person, every foot, or ear or hand is different and this book needs to find a way to connect an understanding of underlying principles (how a foot is made up) with specific feet.
At the moment it feels like… oh… I know how to draw a foot… it’s like this, and I draw that rather than the foot in front of me.
Maybe I need an anatomy book that is more artistically linked than illustrational.